Look on the bright side: The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) fell more than 5% the last time Barack Obama won a presidential election. Today's nasty tumble "only" wiped off 33.86 points (-2.37%), as the S&P 500 ended below 1,400 at 1,394.53.
The impetus for one of the worst falls we've witnessed this year relates to both Wall Street's wall of worry, which now focuses to the impending fiscal cliff in less than eight weeks, and mounting concerns in Europe, where Mario Draghi warned that weakness in the region has the potential to drag on Germany's growth.
The drop probably also has to do with the re-election of current President Obama to a second term. Investors had been betting on a Mitt Romney victory, which would have, based on the presumption of Wall Street traders, put fiscal cliff concerns to rest and likely repealed the Affordable Care Act.
Obama's re-election has put a world of hurt on coal, health-care plan providers, and financials today, with Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU), Humana (NYSE:HUM), and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), dropping by 10%, 8%, and 7%, respectively.
For Peabody and the coal sector, the concern has been that President Obama would continue his shift away from coal and toward cleaner-burning fuels and alternative energy. During his second-term campaigning, Obama made it clear that he does plan to use clean coal as a fuel for the future, but coal investors are nonetheless apprehensive.
Humana and other health-care solutions providers are down because Obama's re-election means the almost certain implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The bill, set to go into effect in 2014, will put increased levels of regulation on the health-care industry, which will make it considerably tougher for plan providers like Humana to raise premiums and will make it practically impossible to deny anyone coverage.
Financials like Bank of America sank on the more immediate prospect that the fiscal cliff is looming and the threat of a spike in taxes driving the U.S. back into recession is quite possible. Much of the financial sector is still on shaky ground, especially Bank of America, which has been selling off non-core assets to raise capital for the past two years.
If there was one bright spot to today's tumble, it was the hospital sector, led within the S&P 500 by Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC) which ended the day higher by 10%. Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals will be required to carry insurance, which should eventually end hospitals' burden of being forced to foot the bill for patients unable to pay for their own care.
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Fool contributor Sean Williams owns shares of Bank of America but has no material interest in any other companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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