- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
Dow Jones average plunges 513 points
Worst drop since 2008
NEW YORK — Gripped by fear of another recession, the financial markets suffered their worst day Thursday since the crisis of 2008. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 500 points, its ninth-steepest decline ever.
The sell-off wiped out the Dow’s gains for 2011. It put the Dow and broader stock indexes into what investors call a correction — down 10 percent from the highs of this spring.
“We are continuing to be bombarded by worries about the global economy,” said Bill Stone, the chief investment strategist for PNC Financial.
The day was reminiscent of the wild swings that defined the markets during the crisis three years ago. Gold prices briefly hit a record high, oil fell an extraordinary $5 a barrel, and frightened investors were so desperate to get into some government bonds that they were willing accept almost no return on their money.
It was the most alarming day yet in the almost uninterrupted selling that has swept Wall Street for two weeks. Since July 21, the Dow has lost more than 1,300 points, or 10.5 percent of its value. It has closed lower nine of the 10 trading days since then.
For the day, the Dow closed down 512.76 points, at 11,383.68. It was the steepest point decline since Dec. 1, 2008.
Thursday’s decline was the ninth-worst ever by points for the Dow. In percentage terms, the decline of 4.3 percent does not rank among the worst. On Black Monday in 1987, for example, the market fell 22 percent.
Two weeks ago, investors appeared worried about the deadlocked negotiations in Washington over the debt ceiling. Almost immediately after that was solved, concerns about the economy took over, and the selling only accelerated.
On Thursday, growing fear about the weakening U.S. economy was joined by concern in Europe that the troubled economies of Italy and Spain might need help from the European Union.
The European Union has already given financial assistance to Greece and Ireland, two countries that have struggled to pay their debts. A financial rescue package for Italy or Spain might be more than the group of countries can handle.
Traders also unloaded stocks before Friday’s release of the government’s unemployment report for July, which is expected to show only weak job growth and perhaps a rise in the unemployment rate, which is 9.2 percent.
Together, they produced “a perfect storm of selling,” said Ryan Larson, head of U.S. equity trading for RBC Global Asset Management.
Not long ago, Wall Street had mostly convinced itself that the U.S. economy would improve in the second half of the year. Gas prices were falling, and Japanese factories were resuming production after disruptions from the March earthquake.
Then one report after another began to show that the economy was much weaker than first thought.
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
- Hillary swoons at admitted illegal immigrant: 'Wow,' you're 'incredibly brave'
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- CHARLES: Holder's undermining of the law deserving of contempt
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.