S&P 500 index dives into bear market territory

STOCK markets officially dipped into “bear market” territory yesterday, after US stocks tumbled during morning trading.

The S&P 500 traded as low 1,074.77 at the start of yesterday’s session, more than 23 per cent down on its 52-week high of 14,330. It later recovered to close at 1,123.95.

A “bear market” is usually defined as one that has fallen 20 per cent or more over a period of at least two months.

The FTSE 100 is now just 200 points away from falling into the same territory: it closed 2.6 per cent down at a 15-month low of 4,944.44 yesterday – over 1,000 points down from a high of 6,106 in the last year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is also only a couple of hundred points away from entering bear market territory, having lost some 2,500 points since its summer high of 12,876.

Investors are fleeing equities as Europe goes to the brink of disaster with its debt crisis.

On Monday, Eurozone leaders again failed to reach a resolution on releasing Greece’s next tranche of bailout money, without which the country will go bankrupt in two weeks.