Wall Street Volatile

US stocks endured extreme volatility on Thursday as investors weighed downbeat economic and earnings data with signs that historic levels of strain in money markets had begun to ease.

The S&P 500 swung bet­ween gains that topped 1.9 per cent and losses of as much as 4.6 per cent, one session after their worst sell-off since 1987. At 2:05 p.m. in New York the benchmark index was down 0.8 per cent at 900.33, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was also down 0.4 per cent at 8,546.61. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite index stood 0.9 per cent lower at 1,643.10.

Canadian stocks fell a second day, sending the main index to the lowest level in almost four years, as commodity producers and financial shares slid with resource prices and reports showed the economy is deteriorating. The Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite Index fell 3.1 percent to 9,032.68 at 2:06 p.m. in Toronto and earlier slid 6 percent to the lowest since October 2004.

Brazilian stocks fell, heading for the lowest level in two years, on concern a decelerating global economy will hurt demand for commodities and slow profit growth. The Bovespa slid 4.98 percent to 34,999 at 2:06 p.m. New York time, poised for the lowest close since September 2006.

Stocks declined also in Asia and Europe, with benchmark indexes from Tokyo to Budapest falling more than 4 percent, on growing concern bank bailout plans in the U.S. and Europe will fail to avert a global recession.

U.K. stocks slumped for a second day as investors speculated a global bailout of banks has failed to stave off recession. BHP Billiton Ltd., Rio Tinto Group and Royal Dutch Shell dropped as oil and metals prices decreased. The benchmark FTSE 100 slipped 218.2, or 5.35 percent, to 3,861.31

German stocks dropped for a second day as concern mounted that bank bailouts in the U.S. and Europe will fail to prevent a recession. The benchmark DAX Index dropped 238.82, or 4.9 percent, to 4,622.81.

Japanese stocks plunged the most in two decades. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 1,089.02, or 11 percent, to close at 8,458.45 in Tokyo, the second-steepest plunge in its 59-year history.

Australia's stocks dropped amid growing evidence the nation's 17-year economic expansion will end, as Ford Motor Co. said it will cut 450 local jobs and National Australia Bank Ltd. said profit fell. Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index plunged 6.7 percent to 4,013.40 at the close, eroding a rebound from a 16 percent loss last week, the worst in its history dating back to 1992.

China's stocks fell, driving the benchmark index to a 22-month low, as commodity producers and airlines declined on concern the global economy is headed for a recession that will curb Chinese exports. The CSI 300 Index, which tracks yuan-denominated A shares listed on China's two exchanges, sank 93.45, or 4.9 percent, to 1,820.90 at the close, the lowest close since December 2006

Indian stocks fell, with the benchmark Sensitive Index declining to its lowest in almost a week, after U.S. retail sales fell more than estimated. The Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensitive Index, or Sensex, fell 227.63, or 2.1 percent, to 10,581.49. It earlier fell as much as 7.3 percent.

Russian stocks fell to the lowest in three years, led by OAO Rosneft and OAO Lukoil, as sinking oil prices hurt the outlook for Russia's economy and equities dropped around the world. The Micex Index fell 11 percent to 616.72 at 4:12 p.m. in Moscow, the lowest since June 2005. The Micex Stock Exchange halted trading for an hour because of the slump.

TradingEconomics.com, Reuters, Bloomberg
10/16/2008 11:28:34 AM