Wall Street tumbles on Malaysian airliner crash
US stocks fell sharply lower today, with the S&P 500 posting its biggest one-day percentage drop since April 10 on news that a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet crashed near the Ukraine-Russia border.
Investors sold stocks in a move to avoid risk and poured some money into safe-haven investments like gold and US government bonds as the crash stoked concerns that the conflict in Ukraine might widen after US sanctions against Russia were announced late Wednesday.
Almost 300 people died in the crash, caused by a missile fired at the plane, according to a Ukrainian official. The incident follows an increase in tensions between Ukraine and Russia that has resulted in clashes along the border, including the targeting of military aircraft.
Further pressuring the market, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the military to begin a ground offensive in Gaza, an official statement from his office said. Reuters witnesses and Gaza residents reported heavy artillery and naval shelling and helicopter fire along the Gaza border.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 161.39 points or 0.94 percent, to end at 16,976.81. The S&P 500 lost 23.45 points or 1.18 percent, to 1,958.12. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 62.52 points or 1.41 percent, to 4,363.45.
European shares also slumped, sharply extending losses at the end of the trading day, on the news around the tragedy in Ukraine. .
The crash revived investors' fears over tensions between Ukraine and Russia. The European Union and United States have slapped new sanctions on Russia over what Washington says is Moscow's failure to curb violence in Ukraine.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down by 1 percent at 1,363.19 points.
Airline stocks fell, with Air France KLM retreating 1.5 percent while Lufthansa lost 2.4 percent. The Madrid-listed shares of International Consolidated Airlines Group - the owner of British Airways and Iberia - fell 3.4 percent.