Another big loss on Wall Street
Dow loses 419 points as volatility returns to Wall Street. Besides stocks, oil prices and mortgage rates also fall.
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Asian markets started Thursday's drop. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 1.3 percent. The main stock indexes in South Korea and India each dropped a little more, then Europe more than that — 4.5 percent in Britain and 5.8 percent in Germany.Skip to next paragraph
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In the United the United States, the Dow fell 419.63 points, or 3.7 percent, to 10,990.58. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 53.24, or 4.5 percent, to 1,140.65. The Nasdaq composite fell 131.05, or 5.2 percent, to 2,380.43.
The Dow is down 13.6 percent since stocks began falling July 21 — four weeks that have rattled Americans watching their retirement savings and other investment accounts shrivel.
Lee Applegate, a retired sales executive from Cincinnati, watched the latest market plunge uneasily but said he was planning to stay the course with his investments. He and his wife have several retirement accounts.
He remembers the mistake he made in pulling his money out of stocks in early 2009, just before the market started its two-year surge. Since March 9 of that year, the S&P 500 is up 68.6 percent.
"I think things are going to get worse before they get better," Applegate said. "But I'm still going to ride it out."
Last week was one of the wildest in Wall Street history. The Dow moved more than 400 points on four straight days for the first time. But stocks had been relatively stable this week because investors were calmed by strong earnings reports.
The Dow had fallen 76 points Tuesday and risen four points Wednesday — the first time in nearly three weeks that the average rose or fell by less than 100 points on two straight days.
That ended Thursday. And with stocks down big, money flooded into U.S. Treasurys and gold, both considered safer investments.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note briefly fell below 2 percent for the first time, hitting 1.98 percent, before rising to 2.07 percent. Low yields show that investors are willing to accept a lower return on their money in exchange for safety.
The price of gold reached yet another high — almost $1,830 per ounce. Gold keeps setting records, with some investors looking for stability and others simply looking to cash in.
The price of oil fell $5.20 to $82.38 per barrel after the economic reports raised concern among traders that demand for gasoline would fall. One survey this week found Americans have already cut back on gas 21 weeks in a row.
And the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to its lowest on record. The rate on the 30-year fixed, the most popular mortgage, hit 4.15 percent — the lowest in at least 40 years and barely beating the record from last November. The last time long-term rates were lower was in the 1950s, when 30-year loans weren't even widely available.
Nicole Sherrod, a managing director at broker T.D. Ameritrade, said the market volatility has led more clients to put automatic protections in place to sell a stock or an investment fund once it falls below a certain value.
"Our clients are saying that this is not a buy and hold market," she said. "This is a buy and protect market."
In addition, computer systems that are programmed to analyze charts, capitalize on tiny changes in price and execute trades with no human intervention are making the market rougher.
High-frequency trading programs make up about half of the trading volume in a normal market day but 70 percent or more on a volatile one.