Now that Wall Street knows President Obama will stay in the White House, investors' attention has returned to looming crises facing the U.S. and European economies.
Major stock indexes were down more than 2% midway through the first trading session after election day.
At the top of the agenda is the "fiscal cliff," the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes looming at year's end. If Obama cannot successfully resolve the crisis with a House still controlled by Republicans, economists have warned that the "cliff" could slow growth and push the U.S. back into recession.
"We've gotten certainty on the presidency and now we move into the uncertainty of where we were before -- the fiscal cliff," said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial. "The market's not going to have much patience to wait to see when the negotiations begin in earnest and how they evolve."
The Dow Jones industrial average regained some ground but was still down 303 points, or 2.3%, to 12,943 in midday trading.