Alcoa Inc., the nation's largest aluminum producer, lost 8.4 percent after UBS AG cut its recommendation on the shares and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's general economic index slid to the lowest level since records began in 2001. Citigroup Inc., the fourth-biggest U.S. bank by market value, slipped 5 percent and is down 69 percent in 2008.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index declined 2.1 percent to 854.73 at 10:36 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average decreased 188.37, or 2.2 percent, to 8,308.94 and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.7 percent to 1,490.61. Three stocks fell for each that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
The retreat in U.S. equities today followed declines in Asia and Europe after Japan unexpectedly slid into a recession and Britain's biggest business lobby said the U.K. slump may be deeper than earlier predicted.
Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index lost 2.6 percent to 200.13 at 3:33 p.m. in London, pushing this year's decline to 45 percent. National benchmark indexes fell in all 18 markets in western Europe. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 slipped 2.5 percent. Germany's DAX sank 3.3 percent and France's CAC 40 lost 3.1 percent.
Japan stocks slightly rose, led by drug and rail companies, after the nation's slip into recession lifted demand for companies relatively insulated against a slowdown, and oil's drop boosted the profit prospects of manufacturers. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 60.19, or 0.7 percent, to close at 8,522.58 in Tokyo, after losing as much as 2.9 percent and rising 3.6 percent.
Indian stocks fell, with the benchmark Sensitive Index declining for a fourth day, on concern measures by the central bank to increase liquidity may fail to boost growth. HDFC Bank Ltd. led declines. The benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index, or Sensex, fell 94.41, or 1 percent, to 9,291.01.
Australian S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 95.10 points, or 2.5 percent, to 3,653 at the close in Sydney, the lowest since Sept. 28, 2004.