Stocks Drop Worldwide

Stocks fell worldwide, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average below 7,000 for the first time since 1997, and Treasuries rose after Warren Buffett said the economy is in “shambles” and American International Group Inc. reported a $61.7 billion loss., Bloomberg 3/2/2009 10:37:52 AM

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. retreated 5.9 percent after reporting the worst annual drop in book value since Buffett took control in 1965. HSBC Holdings Plc sank 19 percent after announcing a rights offering, driving down lenders such as Bank of America Corp. Exxon Mobil Corp. declined for a fourth day as oil tumbled 9.4 percent.

The Dow average decreased 214.65 points, or 3 percent, to 6,848.28 at 11:48 a.m. in New York. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 3.4 percent to 710.21. Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index tumbled 4.8 percent, its steepest loss of the year. Treasuries rose as investors sought a haven, driving the yield on 10-year notes down to 2.92 percent from 3.01 percent.

The MSCI World Index of stocks in 23 developed nations fell 4.2 percent and dropped as low as 719.42, the lowest intraday level since the Iraq War began in March 2003. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index slid 4.5 percent, while Hungary’s forint dropped after European Union banks spurned aid pleas for eastern Europe.

The deepening global recession, a third government rescue for Citigroup Inc. and dividend cuts at companies from General Electric Co. to JPMorgan Chase & Co. have dragged the MSCI World Index to three consecutive weeks of declines. The benchmark has fallen 21 percent this year, adding to last year’s 42 percent slump.

The MSCI EM Eastern Europe Index slumped 3.5 percent to 88.74. The forint dropped as much as 2.6 percent, the most since Jan. 30. European Union leaders rejected requests for a region- wide aid package, bowing to German concerns that it would put too much pressure on budget deficits in western Europe as the economy slumps.

Asian stocks tumbled, dragging the regional benchmark index to the lowest in more than five years, as declines in Japanese wages and South Korean exports fueled concerns the global recession is deepening.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 3.3 percent to 72.68 at 7:30 p.m. in Tokyo, the lowest level since Aug. 15, 2003. The gauge has fallen 19 percent in 2009, extending last year’s record 43 percent tumble, as recessions in the world’s largest economies hurt earnings at companies from BHP to Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 3.8 percent to 7,280.15. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index sank 3.9 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi slid 4.2 percent. All markets open for trading, except Vietnam, declined.