NEW YORK -- The Dow Jones plunged more than 1,000 points within just four minutes Monday before recovering and then ultimately closing down 588 points.
The volatility has many wondering what to do, if anything, with their retirement savings. CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger advises 401(k) investors to be patient.
"You want to keep breathing, stick to your game plan and do nothing," said Schlesinger. "Remember you are a long-term investor. You are buying stocks at a discount if you're putting money into your retirement account."
Schlesinger points to previous market swings as evidence that being calm and patient can pay off.
"I know it can be scary here but let's say you had sold at the bottom of the bear market in 2009," said Schlesinger."The Dow is at 6,500, you would have missed that near tripling of the index to 18,000."
So what is happening to stocks? Peter Tuchman of Quattro Securities says it feels like a correction, not a crash.
The catalyst for Monday's dive was another plunge in Chinese markets, reports CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason. Down 8.5 percent Monday morning, the Shanghai Index has fallen nearly 38 percent since June.
The world's second largest economy has been slowing, but investors now fear it may be even weaker than the Chinese government is acknowledging.
"In the short term, it's over-reacting," said economist Max Wolff. "But it has also under-reacted for 18 months."
The sell-off has put the brakes on a six-year bull market. All three major indexes are down 9.6 percent or more over the past week.
And as for a Federal Reserve interest rate hike, the timing of a move appears to be sliding. CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason reports analysts believe the Fed will wait until later this year, or even next year, before hiking rates.