December 20, 2014
Wall Street down, Nasdaq marks worst day since Nov. 2011
The Nasdaq suffered its biggest drop in two-and-a-half years today after another sharp selloff in biotech and momentum names, including Gilead Sciences and TripAdvisor, increasing investor anxiety about a broader pullback.
The Nasdaq biotechnology index shed 5.6 percent, its biggest one-day drop since August 2011, adding to recent losses since a big drop in Gilead more than two weeks ago triggered a wider selloff for biotechs and other recent big gainers. The Nasdaq biotech index has fallen 19.3 percent from its all-time high of 2,872.29 on Feb. 25.
The S&P 500 also posted its biggest percentage loss since Feb. 3, while the Nasdaq has dropped 7 percent from its closing high for the year, set on March 5. All stocks in the Nasdaq 100 index posted a loss, with the exception of CH Robinson Worldwide, which ended up 1.6 percent at $53.80.
The Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 266.96 points or 1.62 percent, to end at 16,170.22. The S&P 500 lost 39.09 points or 2.09 percent, to close at 1,833.09. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 129.794 points or 3.1 percent, to 4,054.106.
The S&P 500 closed below its 50-day moving average for the first time since Feb. 10, wile the CBOE Volatility index, Wall Street's measure of investor anxiety, spiked 14.98 percent to end at 15.89, still at historically low levels.
Volume was high, with 7.5 billion shares changing hands on U.S. exchanges, well above the 6.8 billion average so far this month, according to data from BATS Global Markets.
The dollar index hit a three-week low of 79.330, well below a seven-week high of 80.599 set only last Friday. It last stood at 79.378, down 0.1 percent on the day.
European equity markets, which started the day stronger, fell in tandem with Wall Street.
But Greece staged a triumphant return to the bond market just two years after its default placed it at the center of the euro zone debt crisis.
The global MSCI All-Country World index was down nearly 1 percent. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European companies lost 0.5 percent, shedding earlier gains.
A drop in China's exports stoked concerns about demand in the world's second-biggest economy and pushed the price of oil down toward $107 a barrel. OPEC also lowered its 2014 forecast for oil demand.
Brent crude fell 54 cents to $107.44 a barrel, after gaining $2.16 over the previous two days.
Gold hit a 2-1/2-week high as the dollar dropped.
Spot gold hit its highest since March 24 at $1,324.40 an ounce before easing to $1320.20, a gain for the day of 0.55 percent.