Markets plunge following Mnuchin outreach to banks

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 400 points Monday morning, following a weekend attempt by Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill Justice releases legal opinion backing Treasury's refusal to release Trump tax returns MORE to calm the markets.

Mnuchin said Sunday that he spoke with the heads of six major banks — Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo — and reported that they had "ample liquidity."

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He also said he would convene a call with the president's working group on financial markets and a group of key regulators.

But the unusual message may have backfired, with analysts noting that the group Mnuchin was calling together was the same as the "Plunge Protection Team" that met at the height of the 2009 financial crisis.

Markets have also been spooked by reports that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE is looking to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. The move would be seen as undermining the Fed's institutional independence, which is a key element in the country's financial system.

U.S. stock markets early Monday continued a decline that last week saw the Dow's worst trading week in a decade. Traders will have a shortened day on Christmas Eve and markets will be closed on Tuesday for the Christmas holiday.