NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks fell on Monday, with the S&P 500 extending losses after its first weekly drop this year, as political issues, both domestically and abroad, weighed.
Equities declined as investors looked to the March 1 deadline for U.S. lawmakers to reach a deal to avert automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, as well as the results from a general election in Italy.
Huge swings in the Japanese yen, euro, and U.S. dollar came in the wake of some wild news out of Japan and Italy.
First the scoreboard:
Dow: 13,784, -216.9 pts, -1.5 percent
S&P 500: 1,487, -27.7 pts, -1.8 percent
NASDAQ: 3,116. -45.5 pts, -1.4 percent
And now the top stories:
- Over the weekend, reports surfaced that Japan would be sending a Haruhiko Kuroda to head the Bank of Japan. Kuroda, the head of the Asian Development Bank, has a reputation for being uber-dovish, which is exactly the characteristic Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been looking for. When Asian markets opened, the Japanese yen tanked and the Nikkei surged.
- Without question, the big story of the day has been the Italian general election. The initial exit polls showed that Pier Luigi Bersani won big, which is what the market wanted. With Bersani came the expectation that Italy’s ongoing reforms to manage its massive debt load would continue. European markets closed up at 11:30 AM ET.
Congressional Democrats and Republicans appeared far apart Sunday on a deal to avert $85 billion in federal spending reductions next month, with a top House Republican saying the cuts appear “inevitable.”
Goldman usually cuts the fat from its firm around this time of year, but that number is usually at around 5%.