October 1, 2009

U.S. markets fall hard Thursday

U.S. markets turned sharply lower at the opening bell Thursday after closing out the third quarter in the previous session with encouraging returns.

The third quarter ended with the Dow Jones industrial average up 15 percent from three months ago, the best quarter in 11 years. The Standard & Poor's 500 also gained 15 percent in the past 3 months.

But a slew of government reports shook investors Thursday. The Commerce Department said consumer spending spiked in August thanks to the cash for clunkers program. But spikes, by definition, retreat hard. In addition, growth in manufacturing slowed in September, the Institute for Supply Management said.

In early afternoon trading, the DJIA lost 174.05 points, 1.79 percent, to 9,538.23. The S&P 500 lost 2.18 percent, 23.05 points, to 1,034.03. The Nasdaq index lost 2.64 percent, 56.08 points, to 2,066.34.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 32/32 to yield 3.19 percent.

The euro fell to $1.4534 from Wednesday's $1.4634. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 89.76 yen from Wednesday's 89.77 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index lost 1.53 percent, 154.59 points, to 9,978.64, closing below 10,000 for the first time since late July.

In London, the FTSE 100 index lost 1.68 percent, 86.09 points, to 5,047.81.