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S&P 500 falls through 2008 low; Dow is at 11-year low

February 23, 2009 | 10:06 am

Like a surrendering army, Wall Street bulls gave up two more milestones in their backward march today: the 2008 closing low on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the 2002 closing low on the Dow Jones industrial average.

The S&P was down 19.64 points, or 2.6%, to 750.41 about 10 a.m. PST, falling through 752.44, which was the recent low reached on Nov. 20.

Germantrader Going through that mark is another painful confirmation that the bear market didn’t end in November -- although many investors already know as much, looking at their portfolios this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell through its November low last week, and today wiped out the last of its gains from the bull market that began in 2002: The 30-stock index was off 174.91 points, or 2.4%, to an 11-year low of 7,190.76 at about 10 a.m. PST, after tumbling through 7,286 -- the nadir of the 2000-2002 bear market, reached Oct. 9, 2002.

Major European markets, including Germany, France and Spain, sank to fresh bear market lows earlier today.

The S&P 500, like the Dow, is back to levels last seen in 1997. For stock investors, it really has been a lost decade.

Unlike the Nov. 20 market low, which was a huge blowout on heavy trading volume, there are no fireworks today, says Joe Saluzzi, a partner at Themis Trading in Chatham, N.J.

Investors, he says, simply see no incentive to buy, with the economy still sinking and no sense that the banking system’s deep troubles will be resolved any time soon -- despite the government's latest attempt to boost confidence.

"This is a slow-drip, slow-death decline," Saluzzi says. "These are the ones that really wear you down."

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: A trader in Germany today, where the main stock index slid to its lowest since 2004. Credit: Frank Rumpenhorst / EPA