Stocks sank on Wednesday, with investors digesting the Federal Reserve’s meeting minutes signaling officials were increasing discussions over the start of tapering their asset purchase program. 

The S&P 500 sank, posting a back-to-back session of declines. The Dow dropped more than 300 points, or 1%, and accelerated to the downside in the final half-hour of trading as concern over a quicker-than-expected shift to monetary policy spooked the markets. 

The Fed’s meeting minutes added to a slew of mixed economic and corporate earnings data, all of which weighed on investor sentiment. A disappointing U.S. retail sales report from the Commerce Department served as a key source of concern for equity traders, with sales dropping 1.1% in July versus the 0.3% dip expected. Housing starts also fell more than expected last month, posting the biggest monthly decline since April. Sales slowdowns at retailers from Home Depot (HD) to Target (TGT)…

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