U.S. Stocks Plunge

U.S. stocks tumbled this week, driving the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward the steepest monthly loss since 1938, on concern the global economy is sliding into a recession.

Alcoa Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. retreated the most in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, losing more than 18 percent, as investors bet the financial crisis spread beyond banks to industrial companies and computer makers. General Motors Corp. approached the lowest price since the 1950s, and Ford Motor Co. plunged 17 percent.

The S&P 500 retreated 6.8 percent to 876.77, the lowest level since April 2003. The benchmark index for U.S. equities plunged 25 percent in October. The Dow average fell 5.4 percent to 8,378.95 this week. The MSCI World Index of 23 developed markets lost 8.3 percent, while Brazil, Russia and India drove a gauge of 25 emerging markets to a 17 percent slump.

More than $10 trillion has been erased from the market value of shares worldwide this month as earnings decrease. The 236 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported third-quarter results posted a 23 percent decline on average. Reports yesterday showed the U.K. economy contracted for the first time since 1992 and growth in South Korea was the slowest in four years.

All 48 of the developed and emerging markets tracked by MSCI have declined in 2008, with 22 losing at least half their value. The 73 percent plunge by Russia’s Micex Index is the steepest. Benchmark indexes for China, Greece, Ireland, Peru and Austria retreated more than 60 percent. The S&P 500 dropped 40 percent. Morocco and Jordan have done the best, falling 6.4 percent and 19.2 percent, respectively.

TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
10/25/2008 11:06:39 AM