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Dow dumps 400 points, on track for lowest close since April

Jonathan Garber
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 400 points, or 1.68%, and was on track to close at its lowest level since April.

  • Traders were positioning themselves ahead of the Fed's two-day meeting, which begins on Tuesday and is expected to produce the fourth rate hike this year and ninth since the financial crisis.

  • Watch the major US indexes trade in real time here.

US equity markets were slammed Monday, and on track for a second straight day of losses.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 400 points, or 1.68%, and on track to close at its lowest level since the beginning of April. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were both lower by about 1.7%.

Monday's selling came as investors positioned themselves ahead of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, which begins on Tuesday. It is widely expected that the central bank on Wednesday will raise its fed funds rate for the fourth time this year, and ninth time since the financial crisis, to a range between 2.25% and 2.5%.

The presumed rate hike drew the ire of President Donald Trump on Monday, as he fired off a tweet criticising the Fed.

"It is incredible that with a very strong dollar and virtually no inflation, the outside world blowing up around us, Paris is burning and China way down, the Fed is even considering yet another interest rate hike," he wrote on Twitter. "Take the Victory!"

Bank stocks were fractionally lower on the day, with the KBW Bank Index down 0.25% as the spread between the 2- and 10-year yields held near 16 basis points. A flattening yield curve hurts banks' profitability as it shrinks the spread between the rate at which banks borrow and the rate at which they lend.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs fell 2.65% to near $US168 a share, lagging its peers, after the investment bank and two of its former executives were criminally charged by Malaysia for what the country called "grave violations" of its securities law relating to the scandal surrounding its $US6.5 billion sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.

Elsewhere, Obamacare stocks were hit hard after a federal judge late Friday ruled that the healthcare law is unconstitutional. The decision will be appealed and doesn't immediately take effect, but Molina Healthcare(-11.18%), CommunityHealth Systems(-10.46%), Tenet Healthcare(-5.27%), Centene(CNC): -4.62%, and HCA(-2.53%) were in the crosshairs.

Oil prices fell, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil down 2.09% to $US50.16 a barrel and on track to close at its lowest level since October 2017.