General Motors Corp. tumbled to the lowest price since 1943 as the automaker crept closer to bankruptcy, while Tyco International Ltd., the world's largest maker of security systems, sank 14 percent on a profit forecast that trailed analysts' estimates. Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. slid 23 percent after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said investment losses may force insurers to raise more capital and threaten credit ratings. All 40 energy shares in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index decreased as crude declined to a 19-month low.
The S&P 500 fell 20.26 points, or 2.2 percent, to 898.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 176.58, or 2 percent, to 8,693.96 as 29 of its 30 companies retreated. The Nasdaq Composite Index slid 2.2 percent to 1,580.9. Five stocks declined for each that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
European stocks fell for the first time in three days, led by financial shares and commodity producers, on a worsening profit outlook and drop in oil and metals prices.
National benchmark indexes fell in all 18 western European markets. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 sank 3.6 percent, with Taylor Wimpey Plc tumbling 13 percent as the homebuilder said orders have fallen 40 percent. France's CAC 40 lost 4.8 percent, led by Total SA. Germany's DAX slid 5.3 percent.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 3 percent to 8,808.50. Seiko Holdings Corp. plunged after cutting its full- year profit target. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index slumped 3.6 percent, led by Wesfarmers Ltd., the country's No. 2 retailer.