Wall st plunges on fears over US economy

THE Dow industrials lost more than 300 points in a sell-off yesterday that drove all major US stock indexes down over two per cent in the wake of the presidential election as the looming “fiscal cliff” debate and Europe’s economic troubles returned to the forefront.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index posted its biggest daily percentage drop since June, with all 10 S&P sectors solidly lower and about 80 percent of stocks on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq ending in negative territory. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 closed at their lowest levels since early August.

Financial stocks and energy shares, two sectors that could face increased regulation after President Barack Obama’s re-election, were the weakest on the day. The S&P financial index lost 3.5 per cent, while the S&P energy index fell 3.1 per cent. An S&P index of technology shares slid 2.8 per cent as the stock of Apple entered bear market territory.

The Dow Jones industrial average slid 312.95 points, or 2.36 per cent, to 12,932.73 at the close. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 33.86 points, or 2.37 per cent, to 1,394.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 74.64 points, or 2.48 per cent, to close at 2,937.29.

The S&P 500 closed below the key 1,400 level for the first time since 30 Augu, while the Dow ended under 13,000 for the first time since 2 August.

About 7.81bn shares traded in total.

Contributing to the Nasdaq’s decline, Apple shares fell 3.8 per cent to $558, off more than 20 per cent from an all-time high reached earlier this year. That slump puts the stock of the world’s most valuable publicly traded company in bear market territory.