Stocks plunged 2 percent on Wednesday, putting the S&P 500 on track for its biggest drop since June, and the Dow plummeting nearly 300 points.
Investors' focus shifted from President Barack Obama's re-election to the looming “fiscal cliff” showdown and whether it could create another U.S. recession.
Energy, healthcare and the banking sectors ranked among the hardest hit after Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney, whose policy positions favored those industries. Defense shares also plunged.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 305.88 points, or 2.31 percent, at 12,939.80. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 31.49 points, or 2.20 percent, at 1,396.90. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 69.66 points, or 2.31 percent, at 2,942.27. The S&P 500 also below the key 1,400 level for the first time since September 4.