Best Buy, the world's largest electronics retailer, fell 13 percent after citing a ``rapid, seismic'' slowdown in consumer spending. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. declined as crude sank below $58 a barrel, while American Express Co. tumbled 9.2 percent on a report the credit-card company is seeking $3.5 billion in government aid. General Motors Corp. rallied 19 percent as lawmakers called for a rescue of the auto industry.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 2.2 percent to 879.51 at 9:34 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated 195.7 points, or 2.3 percent, to 8,498.26. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 1.7 percent to 1,554.47. About 10 stocks fell for each that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
European stocks fell for a second day as declines by commodity producers and insurers overshadowed speculation of more interest-rate cuts and better-than-expected results from UniCredit SpA and J Sainsbury Plc. U.S. and Asian shares also retreated.
Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index dropped 1.6 percent to 208.88 at 2:30 p.m. in London, extending this year's losses to 43 percent. UniCredit and Sainsbury led an earlier rally that lifted the gauge as much as 1.7 percent.
In western Europe, national benchmark indexes fell in 14 of 18 markets. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent even as BOE Governor Mervyn King said the bank was ready to cut rates to as low as needed. Germany's DAX slid 1.7 percent after earlier rising as much as 2.4 percent. France's CAC 40 sank 0.6 percent reversing earlier gains of as much as 2.2 percent.
Japanese stocks fell for a second day after a decline in crude oil prices to nearly a 20-month low and a drop in copper prices signaled a deeper slump in the global economy. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 113.79, or 1.3 percent, to close at 8,695.51 in Tokyo, the first time its daily change was smaller than 2 percent in four weeks.
Australian S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 33.60 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,927.30 at the close in Sydney, the lowest in two weeks.