The Dow plunged 306.95 points to 12.159.21 today, its third straight sell-off and worst loss of the new year, as rough numbers put investors in a bearish mood. The key index has now fallen more than 1,000 points since 2008 began. Merrill Lynch posted a huge quarterly loss, manufacturing slowed, and housing starts came in at their lowest level since 1991.
The Nasdaq fell 47.69 to 2,346.90, while the S&P closed at 1,333.25, down 39.95, MarketWatch reports. Ben Bernanke’s public support of a stimulus plan served as a reminder of troubled times and sent markets downward, analysts said. Bond insurer Ambac Financial plummeted 53.6% today on news of a Moody’s review, while AIG fell 6.0%, and Merck dropped 5.9%.