NEW YORK -- The Nasdaq composite index fell to its lowest level in nearly two years today after an unexpected surge in inflation intensified investors' fears about the future. The Dow Jones industrial average also plunged more than 200 points in heavy trading after the government reported the biggest increase in consumer prices in 10 months.
Dow falls 204
Analysts said the data made already nervous investors even more reluctant to take strong positions in a market that might not recover for a while.
"These inflation numbers were something that was not supposed to happen, and when you're in a tenuous market . . . investors get scared," said Barry Hyman, chief investment strategist for Weatherly Securities. "There's just too many unknowns in front of the market at this point."
The tech-focused Nasdaq composite index dropped 49.42 to 2,268.93, its lowest close since March 3, 1999. The Dow Jones industrials average lost 204.30 to 10,526.58, its weakest finish since Jan. 12. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was off 23.67 at 1,255.27, its lowest close in 16 months.
Decliners beat advancers 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange, with 2,023 down, 1,074 up and 177 unchanged. Volume was to 1.2 billion shares vs. 1.1 billion yesterday. The NYSE composite index fell 11.60 to 629.74, the American Stock Exchange composite index fell 10.47 to 912.30 and the Russell 2000 index lost 7.63 to 483.51.
The Treasury's 10-year note fell 9/32 to 98 29/32; its yield rose 4 basis points to 5.14 percent. The 30-year bond fell 14/32 to 98 11/32; its yield rose 3 basis points to 5.49 percent.