Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, lost 11 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 slipped 6.6 percent to its lowest price since May 1996. Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. tumbled 27 percent after Barclays Plc said the insurer may face more ``negative developments.''
The S&P 500 declined 2.6 percent to 850.75 after swinging between gains and losses at least 18 times as energy shares climbed earlier in the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average decreased 223.73, or 2.6 percent, to 8,273.58. The Nasdaq Composite slid 2.3 percent to 1,482.05. Three stocks fell for each three that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
The tumble 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 200.37 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 2.7 percent. Germany's DAX sank 3.3 percent as did France's CAC 40.
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.