U.S. Stocks Fall After Chinese Markets Plummet

Losses in China were bad enough to close stock markets for the day.
The S&P 500 index was down a little over 2 percent on Monday morning.
The S&P 500 index was down a little over 2 percent on Monday morning.

Last year, steep declines in Chinese stocks were periodically followed by dramatic, if less severe, declines in U.S. and European stocks.

On 2016's first day of trading, it's more of the same. 

Chinese market chaos rooted in long-held but sporadically-acted-on fears of economic malaise, negative U.S. manufacturing data and instability in the Middle East combined to create an unfortunate grab bag of reasons for traders to sell.

In the U.S., the S&P 500 index was down 1.5 percent Monday. In London, the FTSE 100 index fell by 2.4 percent, while the German Dax index was down 4.3 percent. The Japanese Nikkei index fell 3.06 percent.

Those declines, while sharp, are relatively minor compared to the fall in Chinese markets that seems to have precipitated the global decline: The CSI 100 index fell 5 percent, triggering a temporary halt to trading under newly implemented rules intended to prop up the country's wobbly markets. When trading resumed, the market quickly fell another 2 percent and trading was suspended under the same rules, which limit a day's losses to 7 percent.

Making matters worse -- or at least not providing much solace for traders -- are data released this morning showing that U.S. manufacturing continued to decline in December. Additionally, tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalated over the weekend after the Saudi government cut ties with Tehran. The dispute began when Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric, the denomination of Islam most common in Iran.

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