Stocks plunge, with Dow losing 7.2 percent and 554 points
NEW YORK (AP) _ In a day of worsts on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted a record 554 points Monday, forcing an early halt to trading for the first time under rules adopted following the Black Monday crash of 1987.
The selloff was set off by an economic crisis in Southeast Asia and was aggravated as traders sought to preserve profits before all their gains for the year were gone.
The Dow’s plunge of 554.26 to 7,161.15, surpassed the 508-point loss of Oct. 19, 1987, the previous record drop. But the 7.2 percent decline, while 12th largest ever, was not close to the 22.6 percent collapse in the ’87 crash.
Broader stock market indicators also had record point losses.
Overall trading was near Friday’s all-time record, with a new high in volume on the New York Stock Exchange.
``This was the snap between the eyes,″ said Alfred E. Goldman, vice president at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. in St. Louis. ``The market was in a correctional phase for three weeks, and the situation in Asia just opened the flood gates.″
With Monday’s loss, the Dow’s losses grew to nearly 11 percent, or 874 points, since Wednesday’s close. It was on Thursday that a 10 percent drop in Hong Kong’s main index began sending shockwaves throughout world financial markets.
Wall Street’s best-known indicator also is off 1,100 points from its Aug. 6 record of 8,259.31, a drop of 13.3 percent and the first ``correction″ of more than 10 percent since October 1990.
Even with the decline, the Dow is up 11 percent this year.
Under rules adopted after the 1987 crash and aimed at restoring order to sharply moving markets, trading was halted for a half hour at 2:35 p.m. as the Dow for the first time passed one of the so-called ``circuit breakers″ _ a drop of more than 350 points. After the halt ended at 3:05 p.m., it took just 25 minutes to lose an additional 200 points and pass the 550-point barrier. That stopped trading for an hour, ending a trading day that had just 30 minutes remaining.
The circuit breakers also forced the closing of all other U.S. stock markets. Trading in futures and options linked to the Dow and the Standard & Poor’s 500 also halted for the day.
The NYSE plans to open Tuesday at its normal hour of 9:30 a.m. to resume trading.
It was the third straight session that anxieties over the financial outlook for Asia, one of the world’s fastest growing markets, caused global torment in financial markets.
The whirlwind on Wall Street reflects concerns over Southeast Asia’s shaky economies, where mounting trade deficits have sent interest rates soaring and local currencies plunging.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei stock average fell 1.9 percent Monday, while Frankfurt’s DAX index dropped 4.2 percent, London’s FT-SE 100 fell 2.6 percent, and Paris’ CAC-40 dropped 2.8 percent.
Feeding the market free-fall were concerns that the bull market is ending.
``The market is irrational in both directions,″ said Brian Belski, technical analyst at Dain Bosworth in Minneapolis. ``For a long time it was looking for any evidence to push it up. Now, the mood has gloomed and investors are looking for reasons to sell.″
While stocks slumped, U.S. Treasury bonds bucked the trend as investors sought safer places to put their cash until the equity markets steady. The rise in bond prices pushed the yield on the 30-year Treasury _ a key influence on borrowing costs _ down toward its lowest level since early 1996.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 16-to-1 margin on the New York Stock Exchange. NYSE volume totaled a record 685.52 million shares, the busiest session ever. Trading on all exchanges totaled just under 1.78 billion shares, just under Friday’s total of just under 1.79 billion.
The Nasdaq composite index fell a record 115.43 to 1,535.49, hurt by a plunge in technology stocks. It was more than twice the previous biggest point drop. The 7 percent slide was the fourth-biggest ever.
Among the Nasdaq’s biggest losers were Intel, down 5 1/4 to 74 3/4, and Dell Computer, down 12 1/16 to 81 7/8.
Also hurting the Nasdaq was a drop on Oxford Health Plans, which plummeted 42 7/8 at 25 5/8 after news of a big loss.
The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock list fell 64.65 to 876.99, also a record point drop.
The NYSE composite index fell 32.56 to 463.21 and the American Stock Exchange composite index fell 40.77 at 660.41.
The Dow’s weakest components were Merck, which was down 8 3/8 at 85 after a downgrade by Smith Barney, and Alcoa, off 7 7/16 at 69. Other big decliners in the Dow included Travelers, down 7 15/16 at 65, IBM, down 8 at 90, and J.P. Morgan, down 7 15/16 at 108.