Brewing tensions between the United States and North Korea put investors in a selling mood again Thursday, dragging U.S. stocks lower for the third day in a row.

The latest sell-off was the most severe yet, amounting to the biggest single-day drop for the stock market in nearly three months.

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Technology companies, which have been the biggest gainers this year as the market hit a succession of record highs, led the broad slide. Banks and department store shares also were among the big decliners. Utilities eked out a small gain.

“The market has been looking for an excuse to sell off, and North Korea and the president gave the market that excuse,” said David Schiegoleit, managing director at the U.S. Bank Private Client Wealth Management. “As long as it doesn’t go beyond just a war of words, this is going to be short-lived.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 1.45 percent, to 2,438.21. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 204.69 points to 21,844.01.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite bore the brunt of the sell-off, falling 2.13 percent to 6,216.87.

Smaller-company stocks also fell sharply. The Russell 2000 index gave up 1.75 percent, to end at 1,372.54. — AP