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US STOCKS-Wall Street falls for fourth straight day, with no Santa in sight

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* Indexes down: Dow 1.69 pct, S&P 1.71 pct, Nasdaq 1.39 pct

* Trump didn't suggest firing Fed Chairman - Mnuchin

* "Plunge Protection Team" convenes for first time since2009

* S&P's worst Dec since Great Depression, Nasdaq in bearmarket (Updates to open)

By Medha Singh

Dec 24 (Reuters) - Technology stocks led a broad selloff onWall Street on Monday, as the U.S. government shutdown threatensto spill into the next year and the White House moves intofire-fighting mode amid what is already the S&P 500's worstDecember since the Great Depression.

All the 11 major S&P 500 .SPX sectors were lower, and allthe 30 components of the Dow Industrials .DJI were in the red,pushing them closer to bear territory. However, trading volumesare expected to be muted, with markets closing at 1:00 p.m. ETahead of the Christmas holiday, and could exaggerate movements.

The high-growth technology .SPLRCT and healthcare .SPXHC sectors continued to lead the retreat, dropping 1.5 percent and1.7 percent, respectively. Also lower were the FAANG stocks -Facebook Inc FB.O , Amazon.com IncAMZN.O , Netflix IncNFLX.O , Apple IncAAPL.O and Google-parent Alphabet IncGOOGL.O .

"Volumes will be greatly reduced on a day like today and thetwist is we have a lot of things going on. It will beinteresting to see how the market digests all of this in athree-and-a-half hour session," said Andre Bakhos, managingdirector at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

"The main factor on investors' minds is the governmentshutdown and what the resolution can be. It's really fear of theunknown that has given investors grief."

With the equity markets in free fall, Treasury SecretarySteven Mnuchin spoke with the chief executive officers of thesix largest U.S. banks, who confirmed they have enough liquidityto continue lending and that "the markets continue to functionproperly." urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1YS09Q

Mnuchin's plan to convene a call with the President'sWorking Group on financial markets also unnerved investors. Thegroup, formed after the stock market crash of October 1987, isknown more commonly as the "Plunge Protection Team" and met in2009 in the latter stages of the financial crisis.

"We're in a turbulent time and it will be interesting to seehow we end the year. But right now, it certainly looks likeSanta Claus isn't coming to town," Barkhos said.

At 10:10 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 379.14 points, or 1.69 percent, at 22,066.23, the S&P500 .SPX was down 41.42 points, or 1.71 percent, at 2,375.20and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 87.86 points, or 1.39percent, at 6,245.14.

A bruising December for the U.S. markets - triggered byconcerns over a partial federal government shutdown, theU.S.-China trade dispute and interest rate hikes - has put theS&P 500 .SPX on pace for its biggest monthly percentagedecline since 2008.

At the end of Friday's session, the Nasdaq was down nearly22 percent from its record high close in late August andformally in a bear market. The S&P and Dow are also not far offthose levels, having sunk 17.5 percent and 16.3 percent,respectively, as of Friday from their closing highs.

The drop in markets picked up last week after the FederalReserve raised rates for the fourth time this year and said itwould largely continue with its rate hike path and slim down itsvast holdings of bonds, draining the easy money that has helpedpower the stock market's decade-long bull run.

President Donald Trump has criticized the Fed for raisingrates and reports over the weekend suggested he had privatelydiscussed firing Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. Mnuchin later saidTrump does not believe he has the power to remove Powell.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.84-to-1 ratioon the NYSE and a 2.40-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&Precorded no new 52-week highs and 230 new lows. The Nasdaqrecorded the new highs and 664 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh in BengaluruEditing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty) ((Medha.Singh@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1646 223 8780,outside U.S. +91 80 6749 1130; Twitter: https://twitter.com/medhasinghs; Reuters Messaging: medha.singh.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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