BUSINESS

Worst stock market plunge since 2008

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NEW YORK (AP) — Gripped by fear of a new recession, the stock market suffered its worst day Thursday since the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 500 points, its ninth-steepest decline.

Computers at the New York Stock Exchange show the grim news - the Dow lost over 500 points Thursday. (Photo: Associated Press)

The sell-off wiped out the Dow's remaining gains for 2011. It put the Dow and broader stock indexes into what investors call a correction — down 10 percent from their highs in the spring.

"We are continuing to be bombarded by worries about the global economy," said Bill Stone, the chief investment strategist for PNC Financial.

Across the financial markets, the day was reminiscent of the wild swings that defined the financial crisis in September and October three years ago. Gold prices briefly hit a record high. Oil fell even more than stocks — 6 percent, or $5.30 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. The Dow has lost more than 1,300 points, or 10.5 percent. By one broad measure kept by Dow Jones, almost $1.9 trillion in market value has disappeared.

"I don't think there's any good news", New York Stock Exchange trader Doreen Mogavero says. "You've got to give me a reason to buy stocks."

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 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 Dow fell 22 percent.

Two weeks ago, investors appeared worried about the deadlocked negotiations in Washington over raising the ceiling on government debt. As soon as the ceiling was raised, investors focused on the economy, and the selling 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.

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