NEW YORK – US stocks finished sharply lower on Monday (Jan 30) due to unease over the Trump administration’s controversial crackdown on immigration, sinking the Dow below the 20,000-point mark it hit last week.

Analysts said the moves to prohibit people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States and to impose a temporary ban on refugees, risked delaying enactment of tax cuts and other policies that have repeatedly helped lift US stocks to records after the election.

“There’s a chance that some things everyone would like to see accomplished might take longer,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 122.65 points (0.61 per cent) to end at 19,971.13, the first time it closed below 20,000 since breaching that psychological level on Jan 25.

The broad-based S&P 500 also fell 13.79 points (0.6 per cent) to 2,280.90, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 47.07 points (0.83 per cent) to 5,613.71.

Trump’s immigration order sparked protests at airports nationwide and has drawn criticism from many of America’s largest companies, including Apple, Goldman Sachs and Nike. Companies emphasized the importance of diversity and said they were working on behalf of their employees.

“I don’t know if it’s justified but certainly there’s just a lot of uneasiness,” said Bill Lynch, director of investment at Hinsdale Associates. “Lots of people are surprised at the rush to push through these executive orders.”

Airline shares fell sharply, with American Airlines and Delta Airlines both down more than 4.0 per cent and United Continental off 3.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, Rite Aid plunged 17.5 per cent after the value of the firm’s proposed purchase by the Walgreens Boots Alliance was cut following opposition from antitrust regulators. The pharmacy chains said they would sell more stores to gain approval. Walgreens Boots ended unchanged.

– AFP/de