Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New York City on December 21. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Stocks on Monday plummeted amid mixed signals about the economy from the White House, in the worst day of Christmas Eve trading ever.
The Dow Jones Industrial average closed down 653.17 points, or 2.91 percent, in a shortened holiday session Monday. The index fell to 21,792.20 points at the end of trading, down 18.8 percent from its peak on Sept. 20.
Monday saw the Dow fall more than 2 percent early in the day, before it bounced back to recover nearly all of its losses -- before falling again to end the day down nearly 3 percent.
The S&P 500 dropped 2.7 percent, bringing it down 20.6 percent for the year and just into what Wall Street considers a bear market. The Nasdaq -- also in a bear market -- dropped 2.2 percent Monday, down 19.8 percent from its highest point on Oct. 3.
Investors started the day selling off stocks after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shared a statement Sunday, saying he held individual calls with the CEOs of the nation's six largest banks who assured him they had "ample liquidity" to lend to consumers and businesses.
"We continue to see strong economic growth in the U.S. economy with robust activity from consumers and business," Mnuchin said.
He also added that the Treasury will have critical employees maintain core operations throughout the government shutdown.
CEOs who spoke to Mnuchin on the calls were "totally baffled" by the move, a person familiar with the call told CNN.
Shares in major banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs , Bank of America and Citi all fell Monday after Mnuchin's statement.
For a brief time, stocks rebounded, but were sent tumbling when President Donald Trump reignited concerns about the relationship between the White House and the Federal Reserve after it raised its benchmark interest rate one-quarter point, to 2.5 percent, last week.
"The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don't have a feel for the Market, they don't understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders," Trump wrote on Twitter. "The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can't score because he has no touch - he can't putt!"
Trump's statement spurred on concern that he may seek to remove Jerome Powell from his position as chairman of the Federal Reserve, while the Feds interest rates hikes have prompted fears of a possible recession.