By Erik Sherman
December 18, 2018

Markets are bracing themselves for another tough day ahead, with bad news leading in and nervousness about a Federal Reserve rate-setting meeting ahead. The stock market continues to be on track for the worst December performance since the Great Depression.

Instead of a Santa rally, yesterday saw a Santa crash. The S&P 500 hit a 14-month low point with a 2.1% loss. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was also off 2.1% and the Nasdaq, down 2.3%.

European shares followed in suit. The Stoxx 600 lost 0.6% before 9 a.m. local time, closing in on two-year lows and is down 12% so far this year. Oil stocks were particularly hard hit as weak global economic growth drove crude prices down another 2%.

The two-day Fed meeting, starting today, has been expected to deliver another interest-rate increase, Reuters reported. Many hoped that a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping would help improve the outlook because he was expected to call for more market reforms. But Xi offered no specifics.

Monday also brought additional criticism of the Fed from Donald Trump, saying that it was “incredible” the body might even consider a rate increase.

Stefan Keller, an asset allocation strategist at Candriam Investors Group in Luxembourg, told Reuters that “pretty much all asset classes have been down, which is even worse than 2008.” Then, at least, there were some brighter spots, like gold and U.S. government bonds.

But things may have hit bottom. Pre-market trading is up slightly for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq.

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