Stocks head into the final full trading week of the year on the brink of a bear market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted in the past week in its worst performance since before the bull market began, in the very thick of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.
While the market is seemingly oversold, strategists see little chance for any bounce in the week ahead, and the focus will remain on Washington's fight over a government shutdown. Strategists say it may be too soon for investors to look for bargains among the rubble in what has traditionally been one of the quietest weeks of the year.
The Nasdaq Composite Index, dragged down by tech and biotech, was the first index to close in bear market territory, and is now 22 percent from its high. The Nasdaq lost 8.4 percent to 6,332 in the past week.
The Dow fell 6.9 percent in the past week, to 22,445, and is now just 3 percentage points away from bear market territory, or a 20 percent decline. The S&P 500 was down 7 percent for the week and is just 16 points away from a key support level of 2,400. It is also just about 2 percentage points from a bear market.
"Even if we do [get a Santa rally], it's not going to be meaningful. It's going to be super light volume, with a half trading day," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. "Normally, this has been one of the strongest months of the year, but so far things in 2018 that normally have happened haven't been happening."
In a bad sign on Friday, volume was really heavy. More than 12 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges on Friday, the biggest volume in at least two years.
The stock market closes after a half day on Monday, Christmas Eve, and is closed Tuesday.