A gauge of Wall Street anxiety hit its highest level in more than three months as equity markets showed growing concern over a partial US government shutdown and with only nine days left for Congress to raise the US debt borrowing limit.
Facebook was among the biggest drags on the Nasdaq 100, down 6.7 per cent to $47.14 on its worst day in more than a year. Shares of LinkedIn lost 6.1 per cent to $222.73, and Netflix fell five per cent to $302.32. Netflix is the top performer this year on the S&P 500.
“With the uncertainty surrounding Washington dominating trading, today was the day the momentum names finally were hit hard,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. “Could we finally see a move to the safer blue chips? If the Washington drama continues, that could be the play.”
The Dow Jones fell 159.71 points or 1.07 per cent, to 14,776.53, the S&P 500 lost 20.67 points or 1.23 per cent, to 1,655.45 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 75.544 points or two per cent, to 3,694.833.
After the closing bell, Alcoa shares rose 1.6 per cent to $8.07 after the aluminum producer reported a third quarter profit.
Shares of Yum Brands, parent of KFC, were down 6.6 per cent after the bell following results and lowered guidance.