Stocks hit 19-month low as D.C. turmoil weighs

U.S. stocks fell to the lowest since May 2017 as the turmoil in Washington kept investors on edge after the worst week for American equities in almost a decade. Crude sank below $45 a barrel and the dollar tumbled.

The S&P 500 slid for a fourth day, edging ever closer to a bear market after breaking below 2,400, while the Dow dropped more than 300 points. The broader index is down 14 percent this month, headed for its worst December since the Great Depression. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 40 percent above the 30-day average on a day that’s normally subdued ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Investors looking to Washington for signs of stability that might bolster confidence instead got further rattled. President Donald Trump blasted the Federal Reserve, blaming the central bank for the three-month equity rout days after Bloomberg reported he inquired about firing the chairman.

Read more: (Financial advisers put market volatility in perspective for clients)

The comments came after Steven Mnuchin called a crisis meeting with financial regulators, who reportedly told the Treasury secretary that nothing was out of ordinary in the markets. Traders also assessed the threat to the economy from a government shutdown that looks set to persist into the new year.

“I don’t know that you can read too much into the markets reaction today but it’s signaling they’re not impressed,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at the Independent Advisor Alliance. “If we were up, I’d potentially say the message he was sending was well received but it seems like now

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