Wall Street started the fourth quarter with a selling spree Thursday as investors were dismayed by more troubling economic news abroad. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 210 points to close at 7632.53 while the Nasdaq plunged 81 points to 1612.33.
Earlier in the day, Tokyo shares fell 1.6 percent to a new 12-year low. Blue chips in London sank 3.1 percent to close at new lows for the year, while the key index in Frankfurt, Germany, closed down 5.5 percent and the main indicator in Paris was off 5 percent.
All this turmoil comes just two days after the Federal Reserve Board cut short-term interest rates by one-quarter of a point in an attempt to thwart a global economic crisis. Even US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin took the opportunity Thursday to comment on the plunging markets. "Just as there was a herd mentality on the way in, I believe there is a herd mentality with respect to the withdrawal of capital not only from emerging markets but from many asset classes," Rubin told Reuters. The herd definitely rumbled out of the technology arena as the Nasdaq suffered its third-largest, one-day loss in history. In fact, all of the 30 stocks regularly followed by Ziff-Davis finished in the red.
Internet stocks took the deepest cuts Thursday as Yahoo! lost 16 9/16 to close at 112 15/16 and America Online dropped 113/4 to 99 7/8. Amazon.com tumbled 9 to 102 5/8 while Excite and Lycos plunged 5 1/4 and 4 1/8 a share, respectively. Infoseek dropped 2 1/8 to 22 1/2 and Netscape sank 1 7/16 to 20 7/16. Cisco shed 4 9/16 to 57 1/4. Ascend Communications chopped off 4 7/16 and 3Com slid 9/16 to 29 1/2.
Intel fell 2 5/16 to 83 7/16. Advanced Micro Devices chopped off 15/16 to 17 5/8 and IBM tumbled 3 3/16 to 125 5/16. Microsoft fell 6 to 104 1/16. Oracle and Sun closed off 2 1/8 and 4 1/4 a share, respectively.
Reuters contributed to this report