Wall Street sinks, Dow has record drop but recovers

08:23, May 07, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

The Wall Street had one of its most turbulent days in history as the Dow Jones industrials fell to a loss of almost 1,000 points in less than half hour of rollercoaster trading on fears that Greece's debt problems could hijack world economic recovery.

The market's plunge came less than 90 minutes before the end of trading. The Dow's drop was its largest loss ever during the course of a trading day, but it recovered to a loss of 347 at the close. All the major indexes lost more than 3 percent.

There were reports that the sudden drop was caused by a trader who mistyped an order to sell a large block of stock. The drop in that stock's price was enough to trigger "sell" orders across the market.

Still, the Dow was already down more than 200 points as traders watched protests in the streets of Athens on TV. Protestors raged against austerity measures passed by the Greek parliament.

But traders were not comforted by the fact that Greece seemed to be working towards a resolution of its debt problems. Instead, they focused on the possibility that other European countries would also run into trouble, and that the damage to their economies could spread to the U.S.

The Dow fell 998.50 points in its largest point drop ever, eclipsing the 780.87 it lost during the course of trading on October 15, 2008, during the height of the financial crisis.

The Dow has lost 631 points, or 5.7 percent, in three days amid worries about Greece.

"The market is now realizing that Greece is going to go through a depression over the next couple of years," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak. "Europe is a major trading partner of ours, and this threatens the entire global growth story."

Computer trading intensified the losses as programs designed to sell stocks at a specified level kicked in. Traders use those programs to try to limit their losses when the market is falling. And the selling only led to more selling as prices fell.

The selling was furious: At 2:20 p.m. EDT, the Dow was at 10,460, a loss of 400 points.

It then tumbled 600 points in seven minutes to its low of the day of 9,869, a drop of 9.2 percent.

By 3:09 p.m., the Dow had regained 700 points. It then fluctuated sharply until the close.

"I think the machines just took over. There's not a lot of human interaction," said Charlie Smith, chief investment officer at Fort Pitt Capital Group. "We've known that automated trading can run away from you, and I think that's what we saw happen today."

On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, stone-faced traders huddled around electronic boards and televisions, silently watching and waiting. Traders' screens were flashing numbers non-stop, with losses shown in solid blocks of red numbers.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago, said the selling brought back memories of the 1987 crash.

"I've been watching the markets since 1982 and, believe me, I froze at the screen in '87," Ablin said. "But today ... caused me to fall out of my chair at one point. It felt like that we lost control."

The impact on some stocks was enormous although brief. Stock in the consulting firm Accenture fell to 4 cents after closing at $42.17 on Wednesday. It closed at $41.09, down just over $1.

NYSE spokesman Raymond Pellecchia said the plunge wasn't caused by a problem with the exchange's trading systems. The Nasdaq Stock Market said it was reviewing its trades with other trading networks.

Agencies / People's Daily Online

(Editor:梁军)

  • Do you have anything to say?

双语词典
dictionary

  
Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • On Sept. 26, a resident passes by a flower terrace decorated for the coming National Day. (Xinhua/Hang Xingwei)
  • The photo, taken on Sept. 26, shows the SWAT team ready for the joint exercise. (Xinhua/Wangkai)
  • Two metro trains in Shanghai collided Tuesday afternoon, and an identified number of passengers were injured in the accident, the Shanghai-based eastday.com reported. Equipment failures were believed to have caused the crash on the Line 10 subway, Xinhua quoted local subway operator as saying.
  • An employee at a gold store in Yiwu, located in east China's Zhejiang province, shows gold jewelry on Monday.(Xinhua/Zhang Jiancheng)
  • Tourists ride camels near China's largest desert lake Hongjiannao in Yulin, north China's Shaanx Province, Sept. 24, 2011. Hongjiannao is shrinking as a result of climate change and human activities, and may vanish in a few decades. Its lake area, which measured more than 6,700 hectares in 1996, has shrunk to 4,180 hectares. Its water level is declining by 20-30 centimeters annually and its water PH value has risen to 9.0-9.42 from 7.4-7.8. (Xinhua/Liu Yu)
  • Actors perform royal dance at the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, Sept. 27, 2011. A ceremony commemorating the 38th South Korea Sightseeing Day was held in Gyeongbok Palace on Tuesday. (Xinhua/He Lulu)
Hot Forum Discussion