Skidding stocks sent the Dow and Nasdaq into bear territory as oil hit a record near $144 a barrel, the Wall Street Journal reports. Besides oil, bad news from GM and weak jobs data darkened the street’s mood. The Dow fell 166.75 points to 11,215.51, down 20.8% from its record high in October. A drop of 20% is the traditional threshold for a bear market. The Nasdaq fell 53.51 points to 2,251.46, and the S&P 500 fell 23.38 points to 1,261.53.
GM plummeted 15% after Merrill Lynch analysts downgraded its stock and said bankruptcy was possible. ADP reported that private-sector firms cut 79,000 jobs last month, the most since November 2002. "As long as oil is going higher every day, it's difficult to say that we will hit a bottom,'' said one analyst.