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Dow Closes At Lowest Level in Nearly 4 Years

At the bell, the Dow industrials was down 390 points, roughly 4.6 percent, marking its seventh largest point drop in history. The key market index closed at 8,019.26, its lowest level since October 1998 when Russia’s financial crisis sparked a stock selling spree around the world.

The market began its nose-dive at the opening bell and, within minutes, the blue-chip index sank below its Sept. 21 low of 8,235. The Dow industrials spiked briefly, but then resumed its downhill slide. Not a single stock in the industrial average posted even a modest gain.

Amid poor corporate earning reports and government investigations into blue-chip companies, the Dow suffered its greatest percentage-drop this year and its worst since last Sept. 17 when the index fell 684 points, or 7.1 percent.

The technology-laden Nasdaq index also suffered a 38-point drop to 1,319.05, and the Standard and Poor’s 500 index shed 34 points, or 3.9 percent of its value, to 847.75.

In the wake of a major management shake-up, shares of AOL/Time Warner continued their decline today, closing at $11.58, a 7 percent loss.

Johnson and Johnson’s stock tumbled 15 percent after it confirmed that the federal government was investigating its factory in Puerto Rico for allegedly producing an anemia drug, previously linked to severe illnesses in Europe and Canada.

Other major market movers were Microsoft, which cut back its earning report, and Sun Microsystems, whose stock fell 26 percent after it predicted a loss this quarter.

“There hasn’t been any news in the last 12 weeks that has made anybody feel confident,” Thomas McManus, the equity strategist at Banc of America Securities, told The New York Times. “There is nothing that has made people say there is a great opportunity here.”

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