Stocks took a sharp nosedive in a post-election selloff Wednesday, with the Dow logging its biggest decline in nearly a year, prompted by concerns over the looming "fiscal cliff" and amid renewed worries over Europe's weak economy.
The Dow closed below 13,000 for the first time since early August, while the S&P 500 broke below 1,400.
“It’s now how quickly we can focus on the ‘fiscal cliff’ and coming up with a resolution -- that's certainly the next item on the agenda for the market,” said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets. "And you still have Europe."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 312.95 points, or 2.36 percent, to close at 12,932.73, logging its biggest one-day drop in almost a year. Bank of America and JPMorgan were the biggest blue-chip laggards.
The S&P 500 tumbled 33.86 points, or 2.37 percent, to finish at 1,394.53. The Nasdaq slumped 74.64 points, or 2.48 percent, to end at 2,937.29.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, jumped near 19.
All key S&P sectors ended firmly in the red, led by energy and financials.
Apple [AAPL 558.0019 -22.1976 (-3.83%) ] fell more than 3 percent, pushing the tech giant down a jaw-dropping 20 percent from its all-time high of $705.07 in mid-September. The stock finished the session in bear market territory.
Obama was re-elected president Tuesday night, put over the top by the crucial battleground state of Ohio following the most expensive election in U.S. history.
Meanwhile, ratings agency Fitch said Obama needs to move quickly to avoid the "fiscal cliff," adding that failure to address the issue would likely result in a downgrade in 2013. Moody's said it would make a decision following the budget negotiations, though going over the "fiscal cliff" would not immediately trigger a downgrade.
Wall Street had favored Romney and the Republican ticket in part because it preferred their approach of retaining tax cuts, and making spending cuts. The Obama Administration favors raising taxes on the richest Americans, and also increasing capital gains and dividend taxes.
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