NEW YORK — Worries about an economic slowdown in China fueled a steep drop in commodity prices Monday, spooking investors and giving the stock market its worst day of the year.
The trigger for the sell-off came from China, where the world's second-largest economy expanded 7.7 percent in the first three months of the year, well below forecasts of 8 percent or better.
That news pummeled copper, oil and other commodities. Shares of oil and mining companies fared the worst because China is a huge importer of their products.
The decline came after a pile of negative economic reports. In addition to the concerns about China, a separate report showed weak manufacturing in the Northeast, and a home builders' survey indicated housing activity isn't going to be strong, either, said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist for Mizuho Securities.
"People are realizing that the global economy isn't as strong as they expected it to be," he said.
The market began tumbThe pullback disrupted, at least for the moment, the phenomenal rally that has sent the Dow Jones industrial average up 13 percent and the Standard & Poor's 500 index up 11 percent in 2013. Both indexes marked record highs only last Wednesday. But the market's exceptional performance has fueled widespread speculation about an inevitable retreat.