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Global Recession Fears Drive Sell-Off

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Washington Post
Friday, Oct 24, 2008

Stocks tumbled last week, driving the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index toward its steepest monthly loss since 1938, as investors worried about the global economy sliding into a recession.

Alcoa, Citigroup and Hewlett-Packard retreated the most in the Dow Jones industrial average, losing more than 18 percent, as investors bet that the financial crisis had spread beyond banks to industrial companies and computer makers. General Motors approached its lowest price since the 1950s, and Ford plunged 17 percent.

The S&P 500 retreated 6.8 percent for the week, to 876.77, the lowest since April 2003. The benchmark index for U.S. equities has plunged 25 percent in October. The Dow fell 5.4 percent, to 8378.95. The Nasdaq composite index fell 9.3 percent, to 1552.03. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, a gauge of how much investors are paying for insurance against S&P 500 declines, rose 13 percent, to a record 79.13.

More than $10 trillion has been erased from the market value of shares worldwide this month as earnings plunged. The 236 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported third-quarter results posted a 23 percent decrease on average. Reports Friday showed the British economy contracted for the first time since 1992, and growth in South Korea was the slowest in four years.

Treasurys rallied last week, pushing the yield on the 30-year bond to the lowest in more than three decades, as widening financial turmoil spurred a tumble in stocks worldwide and a flight out of emerging-market assets. The yield sank as low as 3.8676 percent Friday.

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This article was posted: Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 6:20 am

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