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The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 260 points in early trading Tuesday. All 30 stocks that make up the Dow average fell.
The losses come after steep declines in European indexes. The Stoxx 600 Europe index fell 4.1 percent on Monday because of concerns that Europe's debt problems could slow growth around the world. The index fell another 1.4 percent Tuesday.
The U.S. economy is also weak. A Tuesday report on the U.S. service sector is expected to show the fourth straight month of declining growth.
It follows a jobs report Friday that that found that no jobs were added to the economy in August. It was the worst reading on the jobs market since September 2010. The report sent the Dow Jones industrial average down 253 points, or 2.2 percent, and wiped out all of its gains for the week. The Dow is now down nearly 3 percent for the year.
Minutes after the opening bell, the Dow was down 264 points, or 2.3 percent, to 10,977. The S&P 500 lost 27, or 2.4 percent, to 1,146. The Nasdaq composite fell 48, or 1.9 percent, to 2,432.
Bank of America, Hewlett-Packard Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and General Electric each lost 4 percent or more.
The price of assets that appeared to be safer bets during a weak economy rose sharply. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.94 percent, its lowest yield on record since the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis began keeping daily records in 1962. Bond yields fall when prices rise.
Gold, another safe asset that has also lately been pushed higher by speculators, jumped 1.6 percent to $1,906 an ounce. And in a sign that investors expect the economy to slow, the price of oil fell sharply. Oil futures dropped nearly 3 percent to just below $84 a barrel.
The U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday.
This program aired on September 6, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.
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