Worst March in 17 Years for the Dow and S&P 500

By Mark Decambre | March 22, 2018, 5:09 p.m. ET

Talk about March Madness

Dow, S&P 500 Threaten to Log Their Ugliest Loss in March in 17 Years

It has been a rough March for the Dow.

It has been a brutal stretch for U.S. equities. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broad-market S&P 500 are looking at an unusually unsightly March, amid a rise in volatility and heightened concerns about geopolitics.

ReadS&P 500 turns negative for 2018 as stocks tumble on trade fears

The blue-chip average is on the verge of putting in its worst March since 2001, when it declined 5.87%, according to WSJ Market Data Group. The S&P 500 index SPX, -2.52%is also on track for its worst March in 17 years, since a 6.4% March decline in 2001.

The Dow DJIA, -2.93%  is presently on track to shed 1,071 points for the month, or 4.3%, while the S&P 500 has shed 70.14 points, or 2.56%, so far.

The awful slump for equities comes as investors wrestled with import tariffs announced by President Donald Trump’s administration on China and jitters around the Federal Reserve’s ability to avoid pushing the economy into recession as it normalizes monetary policy from crisis-era levels amid fiscal stimulus that risks overheating an economy that is roughly in its ninth year of expansion.

Those concerns have helped drive the Cboe Volatility Index VIX, +30.68% nearly 30% higher at its peak at 23.81, above its long-term average of 20. Wall Street’s so-called “fear index,” which measures bullish and bearish options bets in the S&P 500 index 30 days in the future and tends to rise as stocks tumble, has more than doubled thus far in 2018.

SeeTrump’s most market-rattling trade blasts are still to come, warns Pimco

And readHow investors can protect against a trade war—in one sentence

The Dow closed Thursday trade 724.42 points, or 2.9%, lower at 23,957.89. More broadly, the S&P 500 ended down 2.5% at 2,643.69, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -2.43% finished off by 2.4% at 7,166.68.

The Nasdaq is staring down the worst March decline since 2014.

Source: Dow, S&P 500 Threaten to Log Their Ugliest Loss in March in 17 Years