NEW YORK Wall Street plunged Thursday, hurtling the Dow Jones industrials down to their lowest point in nearly two years as investors contended with a barrage of bad news: a surge in oil prices past $140 a barrel and warnings of trouble in the key financial, automotive and high-tech industries.
The Dow closed at its low of the day, down 358.41, or 3.03 percent, to 11,453.42 its lowest finish since Sept. 11, 2006, while all the major indexes lost around 3 percent. The flight from stocks sent investors rushing for the safety of the Treasury market, where prices rose and yields tumbled.
The day's news included analysts' negative comments about General Motors Corp., which made clear to investors how much U.S. companies stand to be hurt from the fallout of the prolonged housing slump, the nearly year-old credit crisis and the soaring price of oil.
Meanwhile, Citigroup Inc. fell sharply after an analyst placed a "sell" rating on the stock and warned investors to expect less from the brokerage sector in an uneasy economic climate.
Disappointing outlooks from technology bellwethers Oracle Corp. and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. further soured investors' moods and made the tech sector one of the steepest decliners.
The heap of worries that investors juggled Thursday added up to an increasingly troubled economy.Broader stock indicators also fell sharply, but did not plumb the levels they reached in mid-March. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 38.82, or 2.94 percent, to 1,283.15, and the technology-laden Nasdaq composite index slid 79.89, or 3.33 percent, to 2,321.37.=