General Motors Corp. tumbled as much as 22 percent, heading for its lowest close in 58 years, and Ford Motor Co. slumped 12 percent. XL Capital Ltd., the Bermuda-based insurer, lost as much as 60 percent on concern investment losses will weigh on results. Exxon Mobil Corp. led the Standard & Poor's 500 Energy Index to its lowest level in two years, while a gauge of financial stocks sank to an almost 12-year low as the three- month Libor rate climbed to the highest of the year.
The S&P 500 retreated for a seventh day, losing 73.60 points, or 7.47 percent at 3:51 p.m. in New York and capping its longest streak of daily declines since 1996. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 623.48, or 6.73 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 5.8 percent to 1,639.61. Seven stocks fell for each that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
Canadian stocks resumed their decline, led by insurers and banks, on speculation yesterday's coordinated interest rate cuts by the world's biggest central banks won't be enough to revive lending. The Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite Index fell 3.7 percent to 9,684.16 at 3:27 p.m. in Toronto after climbing as much as 3.3 percent earlier.
European shares swung up and down wildly on Thursday before sinking to their lowest close since November 2003 as investors offloaded defensive utilities shares and hard-hit financial stocks. U.K. stocks rebounded in the early session, but after 3 p.m. FTSE 100 Index started to decling sharply and at 4 p.m. was down more than 1 percent. Earlier the index was up as much as 2 percent. German stocks followed the same path, at the close DAX was 2.53 percent lower.
Asian stocks gained after four of the region's central banks cut interest rates, joining a global effort to limit the economic impact of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Japan's Topix Index rose 0.7 percent to 905.11, led by Nintendo Co. and Mitsubishi Corp., after the measure became the only benchmark index in Asia to fall below book value and the Bank of Japan pumped $20 billion into the financial system. Nikkei 225 Index lost 0.5% and ended the session at 9,157.49, lower 45.83 points.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.5 percent, led by Commonwealth Bank of Australia after it sold shares at a discount. Indonesian stocks were suspended from trading following yesterday's 10 percent drop. India was closed for a holiday.
China's benchmark stock index fell below 2,000 for the first time in three weeks, led by energy and steelmakers on concern a global economic slowdown will cut demand for their products. The CSI 300 Index, which tracks yuan-denominated A shares listed on China's two exchanges, retreated 27.58, or 1.4 percent, to 1,995.30 at the close, after earlier rising as much as 2 percent.
Russia's Micex Index rallied as much as 17 percent and emerging market stocks rose the most in three weeks as coordinated central bank rate cuts spurred investors to start buying shares at the cheapest valuations in a decade.