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"The market is fearing a global slowdown and is still anxious about the Fed, even though they dragged (New York Federal Reserve President John) Williams out to try to cushion what Chairman (Jerome) Powell said on Wednesday".

A bruising December has set up Wall Street for its worst year since the financial crisis.

The S&P 500 .SPX , the benchmark for USA stocks, is not yet in a bear market, though more than 60 percent of its components are.

"The bond market has been telling us something for about a year, and that is there's not going to be much inflation and there's not going to be a sustained surge in economic growth", said Wren, of Wells Fargo.

December is generally the strongest time of the year for US stocks. But this month has been dismal.

The Russell 2000 gave up 118.73 points, or 8.4 per cent. It is on track for its biggest one-month loss since February 2009 and its first losing year in a decade. The Nasdaq skidded 195.41 points, or 3 percent, to 6,332.99.

After steady gains through the spring and summer, stocks have fallen sharply in the fall as investors worry that global economic growth is cooling off.

Another day of big losses left the USA stock market with its worst weekly drop in more than seven years. Markets tend to move, however, on what investors anticipate will happen further out.

Dow Dives to Lowest Point in 2018 After Fed Rate Hike
Dow Dives to Lowest Point in 2018 After Fed Rate Hike

The Street reported fears of a government shutdown was also being felt on the markets.

After steady gains through the spring and summer, stocks have fallen sharply in the fall as investors worry that global economic growth is cooling off and that the USA could be headed for a recession in the next few years.

Among other threats: the trade dispute between the USA and China, and rising US interest rates, which act as a brake on economic growth by making it more expensive for businesses and individuals to borrow money.

The stock market took off early Friday after New York Federal Reserve President John Williams told CNBC that the Fed will remain flexible about its rate-raising and balance sheet policy if the markets take a turn for the worse. "Fear about a USA government shutdown is playing into the mix too".

The S&P 500 was down 2.1 per cent for the day while the Dow Jones industrial average fell 414.23 points to 22,445.37. The Nasdaq plunged 8.4% on the week, its worst since November 2008.

The Dow fell 1,655.14 points, or 6.9 per cent.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies dropped another 34 points, or 2.6 percent, to 1,314.

Oil prices continued to retreat. In that 17-month period, as the US housing downturn and mortgage crisis erupted, triggering a credit crunch, the index fell 56.8 per cent. That's how it works, remember: When bond prices rise, yields fall. The VIX Volatility Index was higher at 28.38 for a gain of 2.80 points or 10.95%.

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