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Wall Street slides on heightened economic fears

 Traders work at the post that handles Citigroup on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
 Specialist Damen Watson, second from right, is surrounded by traders at the post that handles MasterCard on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange ...

APTOPIX Wall Street

Traders work at the post that handles Citigroup on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

APTOPIX Wall Street

Specialist Damen Watson, second from right, is surrounded by traders at the post that handles MasterCard on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange ...

U.S. stocks fell hard Wednesday on dismal retail sales data and renewed concerns over the health of banks and other companies set to report quarterly results.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 248.42 points or 2.94 percent to end at 8,200.14, off its day's lows, extending a losing streak to a sixth session.
The Nasdaq composite tumbled 56.82 points (3.67 percent) to 1,489.64 and the broad-market Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 29.17 points (3.35 percent) to 842.62.
"The decline was deep and broad as 95 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 finished lower, while all 30 Dow components logged a loss in their worst performance since Dec. 1," analysts at Briefing.com said.
"The lack of buying in the broader market reflects waning confidence in corporate profits," they said.
The market opened lower Wednesday after government data showed U.S. retail sales in December plunging 2.7 percent, more than twice market forecasts, as consumers snapped wallets shut amid the deepening recession.
It was the sixth straight month of falling retail sales amid tight credit, rising unemployment and growing economic worries following prolonged recession in the world's biggest economy.
The U.S. economic slump worsened since early December, with a slowdown hitting a wide range of industries, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book report Wednesday.
The corporate sector's continuing weakness was reflected by Nortel Networks decision Wednesday to file for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. and Canada in an effort by the once high-flying Canadian-based telecom giant.
Earnings warnings in the banking sector, including Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Citigroup, alarmed investors.
Citigroup and Morgan Stanley as well as U.S. listed units of European banks all were hit as their earnings potentials were questioned by jittery investors. Confirmation that Citigroup has agreed to sell a controlling interest in Smith Barney to Morgan Stanley also did little to inspire market confidence over the health of the financial sector, experts said. It was viewed "more as a forced sale" in a bid to boost the bank's capital position, said Patrick O'Hare of Briefing.com.
Citigroup, expected to post a loss when it reports its quarterly results on today amid indications it would downsize, closed 23.22 percent lower to US$4.53 while Morgan Stanley dropped 8.85 percent to US$17.19.


Updated : 2020-12-02 12:43 GMT+08:00