Stocks plummeted to their lowest levels in nearly 12 years as the troubles of two international financial giants reignited fears of a burgeoning worldwide banking crisis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged through 7,000 at the open of trade and landed 300 points lower at 6,763, more than 52 percent below its all-time high in October 2007. It last closed below 7,000 points in May 1997. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped nearly 5 percent to a little more than 700, a critical psychological level for investors and the lowest since November 1996.
The fall reflected another rout in banking and financial stocks, which lost between 10 percent and 20 percent of their value. All of the major indexes have lost nearly a quarter of their value so far this year