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Stocks give up all of their 2011 gains in vicious sell-off

August 4, 2011 |  2:27 pm

Wall Street on Thursday had its worst day since the depths of the 2008-09 recession and financial crisis, as fears mushroomed worldwide about the faltering global economy.

Nearly every major U.S. stock index now is in the red for 2011.

The numbers tell the ugly tale:

--- The Dow Jones industrial average (charted below) plummeted 512.76 points, or 4.3%, to 11,383.68, the lowest close since Dec. 9, 2010. The Dow now is off 1.7% year to date.

Dow84 --- The Dow’s point drop was the largest since it fell 680 points on Dec. 1, 2008. The percentage drop was the largest since the 4.6% plunge on Feb. 10, 2009.

--- Percentage declines in other major indexes for the day: Standard & Poor’s 500, 4.8%; Nasdaq composite, 5.1%; New York Stock Exchange composite,  5.4%; Russell 2,000 small-stock index, 6%.

--- Year to date the S&P 500 is down 4.6%, Nasdaq is off 3.6%, the NYSE index is down 6.7%, and the Russell has slumped 7.2%.

--- All 30 stocks in the Dow fell for the day. In the S&P 500, just three stocks rose; 497 were down.

--- Of the 10 major S&P 500 industry sectors, energy was the worst performer for the day, down 6.8%, as crude oil prices dived. The basic-materials sector (i.e., commodities) was second-worst, down 6.6%.

The smallest decline was in the so-called consumer staples sector (food, soft drinks, household products), down 3.1%.

--- Most major U.S. indexes now are in “correction” territory, meaning they’re down more than 10% from their recent highs reached in spring. This is the first market correction since the spring and early summer of 2010.

Measured from their spring peaks, the Dow is down 11.1%, the S&P 500 is down 12%, the Nasdaq is down 11%, the NYSE composite is off 14.3% and the Russell 2,000 has slumped 16%.

Now investors can only look with trepidation toward Friday, when the government gives what's expected to be a dismally weak employment report for July.

-- Tom Petruno

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What's behind stocks' slide?



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