Stocks are slumping amid renewed concerns about U.S. economic growth and simmering trade tensions.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 560 points in afternoon trading Wednesday before closing down 494 points, or 1.8%, at 26,079. The broader S&P 500 fell 1.9% on the day, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq each sank 1.6%. The Dow remains up nearly 13% on the year, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have added roughly 15% and 16%, respectively.
A weak report on private-sector hiring in the U.S. last month gave investors more reason to worry that President Donald Trump's trade wars are taking their toll on the economy. Payroll processor ADP reported that companies added 135,000 employees in September, down from the year-ago period and falling short of forecasts.
"Worries over the global slowdown continue to build. Then throw in impeachment discussions and protests in Hong Kong, and we have a 'sell first and ask questions later' market on our hands," said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial.
A ruling by a world trade body allowing the U.S. to impose tariffs on European goods as retaliation for illegal subsidies to Airbus also raised fears that global trade tensions could get worse.
Other signs show that the U.S. economy is weakening. On Tuesday, a measure of factory activity that is watched closely by investors registered its weakest reading in more than 10 years.
Manufacturers have been hurt by slowing global growth, the U.S. trade war with China and an ongoing strike by nearly 50,000 General Motors workers.
"The slowdown in manufacturing may have further to run," Mark Haefele, chief investment officer for UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a client note.
On trade, Carl Weinberg of HFE Economics sees little chance of a breakthrough when Chinese Vice Premier Liu He meets with U.S. officials in Washington later this month.
"Premier Liu will come to Washington to listen, but we see no sign that Beijing is ready to strike any kind of deal," Weinberg said in a report.
A key test will come Friday, when the Labor Department releases its monthly employment report. Forecasters expect payroll gains of 130,000 in September, on par with job growth the previous month.
Economic growth slowed this year from 3% in the first three months of the year to 2% in the second quarter. The latest forecasts peg growth in the current period at less than 2%.