- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wall Street staggered through another day of losses Monday, with investors apparently uncertain which way to turn, although some major bank stocks rallied in the face of a broader slide that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average down another 80 points to a new 12-year low.

The markets fluctuated early in the session and at one point moved into positive territory, which sent the Nasdaq Composite Index up more than 1 percent through the 1,300 level. But the upsurge didn’t last long: The tech-laden index dropped nearly 2 percent; the other two major indexes, at least 1 percent each.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 79.89, or 1.21 percent, to 6,547.05. The Nasdaq fell 25.21, or 1.95 percent, to 1,268.64. The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 dipped 6.85, or 1 percent, to 676.53.

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The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 7.79, or 2.2 percent, to 343.26.

The Dow reached its lowest point since April 1997, and the S&P; 500 hit its lowest mark since September 1996. The Nasdaq was at October 2002 levels.

Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who predicted the financial crisis, said in an interview with Bloomberg.com that it is “highly likely” the S&P; 500 will drop to “600 or below.” He added that there is “some possibility” it could hit 500.

The benchmark index of 500 different companies has fallen about 25 percent this year following a 38 percent drop in 2008 in what Bloomberg.com said marked its steepest decline since 1937.

The price of a barrel of light, sweet crude oil bumped up $1.55 to close at $47.07 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, on worries that OPEC might again cut production in order to curtail supplies to boost prices.

Some bank stocks rose, with Wells Fargo & Co. up more than 15 percent and Bank of America surging about 19 percent. General Electric Co., whose stock has been beaten down in the past several weeks because of its capital arm, rose about 5 percent.

The announced purchase by drug giant Merck & Co. of its huge competitor, Schering-Plough, for $41 billion appeared to have little impact on the markets.

Billionaire Warren Buffett, a stock market guru to some, told CNBC viewers Monday what everyone else with investments has known for months: that the economy “has fallen off a cliff.” Mr. Buffett, in an interview at his home in Omaha, Neb., indicated that fear has driven down the markets.

Despite the problems, Mr. Buffett said, “Everything will be all right. We do have the greatest economic machine that’s ever been created.”

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