Still own stocks? Congratulations. You’re surviving the worst year in Wall Street history — so far.
Stocks plunged again Thursday as joblessness grew, Congress stalled on a rescue for domestic automakers and oil slid below $50 a barrel. A leading banker, meanwhile, declared America is “drowning in debt,” and investment dollars fled to the seeming safety of government bonds.
“I’ve never seen it like this,” admitted Mark Eveans, a veteran money manager with Meritage Portfolio Management Inc. in Overland Park. “You could almost compare this to a 100-year flood.”
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 444.99 points, or 5.6 percent, and settled at 7,552.29.
Damage to the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index — mimicked by index mutual funds found in many retirement accounts — left it with barely half its value from the start of the year and lower than at any time since April 1997.
Down 49 percent this year, and nearly 52 percent from its October 2007 peak, the S&P’s slide now exceeds the record 47 percent drop in depression-ridden 1931. Experts weren’t promising that stocks wouldn’t fall further before the calendar turns.
“We’re just trying to stay away from the windows,” investment strategist James Paulsen at Wells Capital Management Inc. told Bloomberg News. “This isn’t about fundamentals. It’s not about bad balance sheets. It’s about fear and confusion.”
But there was more bad economic news to feed fears.
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