The following is an excerpt from an Associated Press Article written by Tim Paradis and posted on Yahoo today: (see original here)
“Stocks plunged Thursday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average down 679 points — more than 7 percent — to its lowest level in five years. Stocks took a nosedive after a major credit-rating agency said it might cut its rating on General Motors and Ford, further rattling investors already fretting over the impact of tight credit on the economy.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index also fell more than 7 percent.
The declines came on the one-year anniversary of the closing highs of the Dow and the S&P. The Dow has lost 5,585 points, or 39.4 percent, since closing at 14,164.53 on Oct. 9, 2007. It’s the worst run for the Dow since the nearly two-year bear market that ended in December 1974 when the Dow lost 45 percent. The S&P 500, meanwhile, is off 655 points, or 41.9 percent, since recording its high of 1,565.15.
U.S. stock market paper losses totaled $872 billion Thursday and the value of shares over all has tumbled a stunning $8.33 trillion since last year’s high. That’s based on figures measured by the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index, which tracks 5,000 U.S.-based companies’ stocks and represents almost all stocks traded in America.
Thursday’s sell-off came as Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services put General Motors Corp. and its finance affiliate GMAC LLC under review to see if its rating should be cut. The action means there is a 50 percent chance that S&P will lower GM’s and GMAC’s ratings in the next three months. GM has been struggling with weak car sales in North America.
S&P also put Ford Motor Co. on credit watch negative. The ratings agency said that GM and Ford have adequate liquidity now, but that could change in 2009.
GM, one of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials, fell $2.15, or 31 percent, to $4.76, while Ford fell 58 cents, or 22 percent, to $2.08.
“The story is getting to be like that movie ‘Groundhog Day,'” said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. He pointed to the still-frozen credit markets, and Libor, the bank-to-bank lending rate that remains stubbornly high despite interest rate cuts this week by the Federal Reserve and other major central banks.
“Until that starts coming down, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone getting excited about stocks,” Hogan said. “Everything we’re seeing is historic. The problem is historic, the solutions are historic, and unfortunately, the sell-off is historic. It’s not the kind of history you want to be making.”
The Dow ended the day at its lows, finishing down 678.91, or 7.3 percent, at 8,579.19. The blue chips hadn’t closed below the 9,000 level since the June 30, 2003.
The Dow’s tumble in the last seven sessions is its steepest ever in terms of points and the worst percentage decline since a downturn ending Oct. 26, 1987, when the Dow lost 23.8 percent. That sell-off included Black Monday, the Oct. 19, 1987 market crash that saw the Dow fall nearly 23 percent in a single day.
Broader stock indicators also tumbled Thursday. The S&P 500 fell 75.02, or 7.6 percent, to 909.92, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 95.21, or 5.5 percent, to 1,645.12.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 47.37, or 8.7 percent, to 499.20.
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