Stocks are getting crushed, Dow down 300

Stocks are getting hammered Monday.

Near 2:58 p.m. Eastern Time, the Dow was down 305 points, the S&P 500 was down 46, and the NASDAQ was down 141.

The S&P 500 and the NASDAQ were down more than 2% and biotech stocks are sliding all over again. Last week was their worst in four years, and the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF was off nearly 5% today.

Commodities are also under pressure. Gold fell more than 1%, or $US15.80 an ounce, to around $US1,129.80, a one-week low. Silver was down more than 3%, or $US0.5 an ounce, near $US14.60. West Texas Intermediate crude futures in New York dropped below $US45, down more than 2% near $US44.59.

It’s quite the start to the week. Here are some of the big stories of the day:

  • Shares of pharmaceutical giant Valeant fell 10% after Democrats on the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked their chairman to subpoena the company in relation to drug price hikes.
  • Alcoa is splitting itself into two public companies: The Upstream Co., which will primarily do mining and exploration, and Value-Add Co., which will turn raw materials into industrial products.
  • Whole Foods is cutting 1,500 jobs — or 1.6% of its workforce — as part of an ongoing restructuring that includes reducing its grocery prices.
  • Glencore shares are getting wrecked. The mining giant’s stock fell 30% in London after analysts at Investec wrote that persistent, weak commodity prices could wipe out all of the company’s equity value.

In economic data, personal income rose 0.3% in August, more than expected, while personal spending rose 0.4%, less than forecast.

Pending home sales fell 1.4% in August, more than expected. The Dallas Fed manufacturing activity index was -9.5 for September — the index has not been positive in 2015.

Monday’s trading session starts after two back-to-back weeks of stock market declines, and uncertainty is still the big theme.

There could be another government shutdown if Congress does not agree on a fiscal 2016 budget by September 30, although experts say the odds are quite low.

Also, we’re closing in on third-quarter earnings season, and traders are worried about a third-straight quarter of S&P 500 revenue declines. Costco and Micron Technology are two big names reporting this week, and Alcoa will unofficially kick off the earnings sprint next Thursday.

You can read our full preview of this week’s big economic events here.

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