Dow dives 600 points to below 22,000, S&P 500 enters bear market – worst Christmas Eve ever

(CNBC): Two major stock indexes headed toward their worst Christmas Eve of trading ever on Monday, as the S&P 500 pushed to the cusp of a bear market.

Markets responded to turmoil in Washington. Multiple reports said President Donald Trump is discussing how to remove Jerome Powell from his position as chairman of the Federal Reserve. That discussion, as well as the recent market volatility, spurred Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to call the leaders of the six largest U.S. banks over the weekend. Additionally, Defense Secretary James Mattis announced he would step down at the end of February, saying his views do not align with the president’s.

Trump resumed his attack on the Fed on Monday, tweeting that the central bank is “the only problem” with the U.S. economy.

Stocks ended sharply lower Monday in a holiday-truncated session, putting key equity benchmarks on track to log their worst month and a year in a decade. The S&P 500 SPX, -2.71% slipped 2.7% to end near 2,352, based on preliminary numbers. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -2.91% shed 644 points, or 2.9%, to end near 21,794. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -2.21% was down 2.2% to finish around 6,193.

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