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Dow Closes Down 372 Points as Markets Lose Confidence in Trump - NBC News

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Wall Street took a battering on Wednesday as the heightened political turmoil in Washington led many investors to seriously question whether President Donald Trump will be able to push through any real pro-business reform measures.

The Dow Jones opened 170 points lower and continued its freefall all morning, at one point shedding 289 points. By midday it settled somewhat, at a low of 20,725 - a loss of over 250 points from Tuesday's close.

It's the worst day for stocks since 2016. Financials led the sell-off, with Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and Bank of America all down more than 2 percent.

"This is clearly Washington-driven," Michael Shaoul, chairman and CEO of Marketfield Asset Management, told CNBC. "It's a lot like 1998-99, when the market had to deal with the [Monica] Lewinsky scandal."

Investors are spooked that the heightened drama in Washington - including the revelation that Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to halt an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn - will swallow up the passage of Trump's promised regulatory reforms and pro-growth agenda.

Related: Comey Memo Has White House in a Tailspin

Stocks weren't the only metric impacted by the drama engulfing the White House. The dollar dropped back to pre-election levels; and the "fear" index - the CBOE Volatility Index, which measures the fragility of markets - soared by 20 percent on Wednesday, marking the largest gain in eight months.

Predictions that President Trump would be impeached hit a high of 27 percent on Wednesday, according to the online betting site PredictIt.

"An impeachment proceeding would blow the market away," Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, told CNBC.