Dow falls 614 points as Evergrande fears spark steep sell-off

© Getty Images / Xinhua News Agency Getty Images / Xinhua News Agency

US stocks cratered on Monday amid ongoing fears of contagion from the Evergrande debt crisis in China and heightened uncertainty about the US raising its debt ceiling before an October deadline.

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The S&P 500 and Dow Jones experienced its worst day since last October, falling nearly 1,000 points at its lowest point. Both indexes saw a more than 5% decline from their September 2 highs.

Evergrande is the second largest property developer in China and has more than $300 billion in liabilities as it fueled its growth over the past decade. But an upcoming debt crunch of more than $7 billion due in 2022 for the highly levered company, along with interest payments due this Thursday has many speculating that the company can’t meet its debts. There are no signs yet that the Chinese government will step-in and aid the company.

Meanwhile, a divided congress has been unable to raise the debt ceiling and Republicans and Democrats are showing little willingness for a compromise. Congress has to raise the debt ceiling by October, or it risks defaulting on its own obligations.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4:00 p.m. ET close on Monday:

Here’s everything you need to know about the Evergrande debt crisis, and why it is weighing so heavily on stocks despite it being a known risk factor for years. Former short-seller Andrew Left warned about the property developer in 2012.

The risk-off sentiment in stocks could lead to a prolonged period of heightened volatility as the S&P 500 tests crucial support levels like its 50-day moving average, according to technical analyst Katie Stockton of Fairlead Strategies.

Cryptocurrencies plunged on Monday, with both bitcoin and ether falling more than 5% below key support levels. The sell-off in crypto highlights the heightened correlation between it and stocks during down-periods for the market.

Coinbase fell as much as 6% after it abandoned its crypto-lending product plans, which were subject to a twitter spat by CEO Brian Armstrong, in which he called the SEC’s actions “sketchy.”

El Salvador took advantage of the sell-off in crypto and said it bought an additional 150 bitcoins on Monday, bringing its total holdings to more than $30 million.

Despite the stock market sell-off spurred by the Evergrande debt crunch, three top analysts said this isn’t China’s “Lehman Brothers” moment and the Chinese government can step in to contain the mess and insulate its economy.

Oil prices fell. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped as much as 2.19%, to $70.25 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, fell 1.79%, to $73.99 per barrel.

Gold jumped as much as 0.65%, to $1,762.70 per ounce.

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