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Stock market sinks on growing recession fears

Dow tumbles 800 points as recession fears grow
Dow tumbles 800 points as recession fears grow 03:30

It seems appropriate that an alcoholic beverage company was ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, as U.S. stocks plunged all day on investor fears the bond markets were signaling a possible recession.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 800 points, or almost 3.1%, to 25,579. The S&P 500 stock index fell 2.9%, giving back all of its gains from the day before when the U.S. delayed some of the tariffs threatened on Chinese imports. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 3%. 

On the podium of the NYSE during the exchange's 4:00 p.m. close was a team representing Anheuser Busch InBev -- ticker symbol "BUD" -- trying to have a good time promoting one of the booze conglomerate's beer brands despite the carnage on the trading floor beneath them.  

Many a Wall Street trader could've used a stiff drink about then because the bond market was flashing concerns about a possible recession, with the "yield curve" inverting to its lowest levels since 2007. The inversion, a classic recession warning signal, comes amid rising tensions due to the U.S. trade war with China and a global economic slowdown. 

Inverted yield curve: What does it mean? 01:30

Investors were also responding to weak economic data from around the world. Germany, Europe's largest economy, shrank 0.1% in the spring from the first three months of the year, thanks to the global trade war and troubles in the auto industry. Data from China also showed that factory output, retail spending and investment weakened in July for the world's second-largest economy.

"The bad news for global economies is stacking up much faster than most economists thought, so trying to keep up is exhausting," Kevin Giddis, head of fixed income capital markets at Raymond James, wrote in a report.

Macy's plunged a steep 13% after it slashed its profit forecast for the year. The retailer's profit for the latest quarter fell short of analysts' forecasts as it cut prices on unsold items. Kohl's and Nordstrom both lost 11%.

Energy stocks also sank sharply, hurt by another drop in the price of crude oil on worries that a weakening global economy will drag down demand. National Oilwell Varco lost 5.3%, and Schlumberger fell 5.2%. The price of benchmark U.S. crude slid 3.4%, to $55.16 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 3% to $59.43.

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