NEW YORK (AP) - Wall Street suffered through another extraordinary and traumatic session Monday, with the Dow Jones industrials plunging as much as 800 points-their largest one-day point drop-before recovering to close with a loss of 370. The catalyst for the selling, which also took the Dow below 10,000 for the first time in four years, was investors' growing despair that the spreading credit crisis will take a heavy toll around the world.
Investors have come to the realization that the Bush administration's $700 billion rescue plan and steps taken by other governments won't work quickly to unfreeze the credit markets.
That sent stocks spiraling downward in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and drove investors to sink money into the relative safety of U.S. government debt. Fears about a global recession also caused oil to drop below $90 a barrel.
"The fact is, people are scared and the only thing they're doing is selling," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "Investors are cleaning out portfolios and getting rid of everything because nothing seems to be working."
The selling was so extreme that only 264 stocks rose on the NYSE-and 2,986 dropped. That's a telling sign considering the stock market is considered a leading economic indicator, with investors tending to buy and sell based on where they believe the economy will be in six to nine months.
Monday's stock trading extended what has been an extraordinary stretch of volatility, in which triple-digit drops in the Dow are becoming almost commonplace. The steep decline indicates that investors are becoming more convinced that the country is leading a prolonged economic crisis that is shifting to other nations.
"The market view is shifting from looking just at the misery of the financial sector to the global economy," said Georges Ugeux, chairman and chief executive of New York-based Galileo Global Advisors. "There are enough indication that two things are happening: The crisis is spreading to other sectors, and that it is becoming global."
Ugeux believes Monday's rout had little to do with any short-term problems facing the market, such as paralyzed credit markets or ailing financial companies. He believes that, regardless of the late-day rebound in stocks, "the reaction is clearly giving a downtrend and that there is a lack of confidence of investors into the future growth of the U.S. and the world economy."
The Dow fell as much as 800.06, then recovered in erratic trading to a loss of 369.88, or 3.58 percent, to close at 9,955.50, dropping below 10,000 for the first time since Oct. 29, 2004. The Dow surpassed its previous record for a one-day point decline-778, which the blue chips suffered a week ago when investors feared the bailout package might not pass Congress.