The Dow staggered toward a third straight loss on Monday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hinted that President Donald Trump had finally crossed a line that could warrant impeachment, looming election or not.
Wall Street’s major indices incurred moderate losses when the markets opened on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average followed up its sour futures session with an 88.16 point loss. The 0.33% pullback dropped the DJIA to 26,846.91.
The S&P 500 declined 7.25 points or 0.24% to 2,984.84. Nine of 11 primary sectors reported losses, though none fell more than 0.50%.
The Nasdaq dipped to 8,102.89 for a loss of 14.78 points or 0.18%.
Stocks traded down after Democrats in Congress took a step closer to crossing the impeachment Rubicon.
Long resistant to the Democratic base’s desire to impeach President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff both suggested that the administration’s efforts to squash the Ukraine whistleblower complaint could force their hand.
Writing in a letter to lawmakers on Sunday, Pelosi described the administration’s behavior as a “grave new chapter of lawlessness”:
“If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.”
CNN reports that at least 137 of the 235 Democrats in the House have publicly expressed support for an impeachment inquiry, though it’s not clear how many would currently vote affirmative if presented with articles of impeachment.
It’s unlikely that the majority-Republican Senate would convict Trump and remove him from office, but whether it could cripple Trump’s reelection bid remains an open question.
Trump supporters allege that impeachment would backfire on Democrats, allowing Trump to galvanize his base and consolidate support among more moderate voters. However, if that’s the case, why has the White House quietly assembled a “technically nonexistent yet omnipresent force” of at least 30 attorneys working to “stop impeachment before it starts?”
Of course, regardless of the eventual outcome, a no-holds-barred impeachment fight is not something that the stock market would welcome.
Also pressuring the Dow on Monday was the continued fallout from China’s surprising decision to cut a negotiating trip the US short, in an apparent snub to US farmers.
As CCN.com reported, Chinese officials had traveled to the US to lay the groundwork for next month’s top-level negotiations in Washington. Their itinerary reportedly included a visit to farms in Montana and Nebraska, and reports that they had canceled those plans sent the Dow into a tailspin last Friday.
Both Washington and Beijing have subsequently played down the importance of the itinerary change, claiming that the talks had been “productive” and “constructive.”
According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Vice-Minister Han Jun said that the “change in plan had nothing to do with the trade negotiations, as the trip was a stand-alone arrangement.”
However, with the Dow on track to record its third straight loss, it doesn’t appear that the market finds this spin persuasive.
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