Wall St plunges, Dow erases 2018's gains

* Dow industrials notch biggest intraday points loss ever

* S&P, Dow suffer worst declines since August 2011

* S&P down nearly 8 pct from record levels

* Dow, S&P 500 erase 2018's gains (Updates to close of U.S. markets)

Feb 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks plunged in highly volatile trading on Monday, with the Dow industrials falling nearly 1,600 points during the session, its biggest intraday decline in history, as investors grappled with rising bond yields and potentially firming inflation.

The benchmark S&P 500 and the Dow suffered their biggest percentage drops since August 2011 as a long-awaited pullback from record highs deepened.

The financial, healthcare and industrial sectors fell the most, but declines were spread broadly as all major 11 S&P groups dropped at least 1.7 percent. All 30 of the blue-chip Dow industrial components finished negative.

With Monday's declines, the S&P 500 erased its gains for 2018 and is now down 0.9 percent in 2018.

Many investors have been bracing for a pullback for months, as the stock market has minted record high after record high with investors encouraged by solid economic data and corporate earnings prospects, the latter bolstered by recently passed U.S. corporate tax cuts.

Friday's January jobs report sparked worries over inflation and a surge in bond yields, as well as concerns that the Federal Reserve will raise rates at a faster pace than expected.

"The market has had an incredible run," said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist At JonesTrading In Greenwich, Connecticut. 

RELATED: Take a look at the New York Stock Exchange before the election:

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New York Stock Exchange before the election
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., November 3, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Pedestrians walk along Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. U.S. stocks rose from a six-week low amid an increase in deal activity as traders assessed the outlook for the presidential election and interest rates in the world's largest economy. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 1, 2016 in New York City. As Wall Street continues to feel election uncertainty, the Dow Jones closes fell more than 100 points. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. U.S. stocks fluctuated amid payrolls data that bolstered speculation the economy is strong enough to weather higher interest rates, while investors remained wary before the looming presidential election. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. U.S. stocks fluctuated amid payrolls data that bolstered speculation the economy is strong enough to weather higher interest rates, while investors remained wary before the looming presidential election. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 1, 2016 in New York City. As Wall Street continues to feel election uncertainty, the Dow Jones closes fell more than 100 points. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. U.S. stocks rose from a six-week low amid an increase in deal activity as traders assessed the outlook for the presidential election and interest rates in the world's largest economy. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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"We have an environment where interest rates are rising. We have a stronger economy so the Fed should continue to tighten ... You're seeing real changes occur and different investments are adjusting to that," O'Rourke said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,175.21 points, or 4.6 percent, to 24,345.75, the S&P 500 lost 113.19 points, or 4.10 percent, to 2,648.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 273.42 points, or 3.78 percent, to 6,967.53.

The S&P 500 ended 7.8 percent down from its record high on Jan. 26, with the Dow down 8.5 percent over that time.

Even with the sharp declines, stocks finished above their lows touched during the session. At one point, the Dow fell 6.3 percent or 1,597 points, the biggest one-day points loss ever, as it breached both the 25,000 and 24,000 levels during trading.

The stock market has climbed to record peaks since President Donald Trump's election and remains up 23.8 percent since his victory. Trump has frequently touted the rise of the stock market during his presidency.

As the stock market fell on Monday, the White House said the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are strong.

The CBOE Volatility index, the closely followed measure of expected near-term stock market volatility, jumped 20 points to 30.71, its highest level since August 2015.

Until recently, gains for stocks have come as the market has been relatively subdued, and any declines were met with buyers looking for bargains.

“People who have been buying the dip are now going to be selling the rip," said Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas. "The psychology of the market changed today. It’ll take a while to get that psychology back.”

About 11.5 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, well above the 7.6 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 8.64-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 6.92-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 1 new 52-week highs and 38 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 17 new highs and 164 new lows. 37.32

(Additional reporting by Megan Davies, Sinead Carew, Caroline Valetkevitch and Chuck Mikolajczak in New York, Noel Randewich in San Francisco and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Nick Zieminski)

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Markets

DJIA 24,448.69 -14.25 -0.06%
NASDAQ 7,128.60 -17.52 -0.25%
S&P 500 2,670.29 0.15 0.01%
NIKKEI 225 22,088.04 -74.20 -0.33%
HANG SENG 30,254.40 -163.93 -0.54%
DAX 12,572.39 31.89 0.25%
USD (per EUR) 1.22 -0.01 -0.52%
USD (per CHF) 0.98 0.00 0.25%
JPY (per USD) 108.72 0.85 0.79%
GBP (per USD) 1.39 -0.01 -0.44%

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