Stocks Crushed as Wall Street Girds for Fiscal Cliff Battle
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The major U.S. stock averages were walloped Wednesday, dragged lower by persistent worries about the fiscal cliff.
The selling accelerated after President Barack Obama again stressed his commitment to ending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans during a press conference. The president's firm stance sets the stage for a tough battle with Republicans toward compromise on the next federal budget.
The release of the minutes of latest Federal Reserve policy meeting was a factor as well as the commentary showed some division among members of the central bank's open market committee about continued quantitative easing efforts in 2013.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down more than 185 points, or 1.45%, at 12,571. The blue-chip index, which has now lost ground in five of the past six sessions, is now up just 2.89% year-to-date.
The index, which scraped a session low of 12,542, has pulled back roughly 8% since hitting its 2012 intraday high of 13,661 on Oct. 5.
Breadth within the Dow was very negative with losers far outpacing winners, 29 to 1.
Cisco was the only blue chip to finish in the green after the networking giant posted strong quarterly earnings after Tuesday's close. The stock added nearly 5%.
Both indices are still up so far in 2012, 7.78% and 9.28%, respectively. Since hitting a high of 3197 on Sept. 21, the Nasdaq has now lost 11%, qualifying as a correction. The S&P 500 has fallen 8.1% since peaking for the year at 1474.51 on Sept. 15.