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Stocks drop again with Dow's two-day slide now totaling more than 1,000 points

Christine Wang
Stocks drop again with Dow's two-day slide now totaling more than 1,000 points

Stocks fell sharply on Thursday as continuing fears over U.S.-China trade relations and concern over a possible global economic slowdown kept investors on edge.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 451 points, bringing its two-day losses to more than 1,000 points. The S&P 500 fell 1.5 percent while the Nasdaq Composite plunged nearly 2 percent.

Trade fears ratcheted up after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian authorities on Wednesday in Vancouver, where she faces extradition to the U.S . The arrest decreases the likelihood that a permanent U.S.-China trade deal will be reached. Huawei is one of the largest mobile phone makers in the world.

Wanzhou's arrest comes after President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to hold off on implementing additional tariffs on each other's goods. The world's largest economies have been engaged in a trade spat that has sent ripples through global markets. The skirmish has investors worried that corporate earnings and economic growth could be negatively impacted.

News of the arrest contributed to a volatile overnight session in the U.S. stock futures market. When futures opened overnight, there was an initial plunge lower on heavy volume. The CME Group said in a statement that "equity index futures and options markets paused intermittently following this evening's open due to volatility ."

"Unfortunately until we get new news the market continues to be a cauldron of concerns causing caution with investors," said Art Hogan, B. Riley FBR's chief market strategist. "With the combination of he said Xi said on China trade, a fear of an economic slowdown in 2019, and the slow trickle of Mueller investigation reports coming out, it is not at all surprising to see a buyer's strike in the after-hours market."

Fears of a potential slowdown in economic growth also pushed stocks lower. On Monday, the yield on the three-year Treasury note surpassed its five-year counterpart. That bond-market phenomenon, known as a yield-curve inversion , is seen as a recession signal. But typically the recession doesn't come until years after and many traders won't see the inversion as official until the two-year yield rises above the 10-year yield.

Shares of major banks like J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America all traded lower on Thursday.

"The plunge in bond yields … tells us that unlike October, this is a true risk-off move," said Ed Clissold, chief U.S. strategist at Ned Davis Research Group. "So while it is likely going to get worse before it gets better, the market action is getting closer to the panic selling seen as the market tries to find a bottom."

Thursday's moves come after the market was closed Wednesday as the nation remembered former president George H.W. Bush. The closure may have added to investor anxiety. On Tuesday, the Dow plunged 799 points.

—CNBC's Tom Franck contributed to this report.