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Wall Street tumbles, but is far from lows


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POSTED: Saturday, February 21, 2009

NEW YORK » Despairing investors keep unloading stocks—and there are no signs that the selling will end anytime soon.

Wall Street tumbled again yesterday, giving the market a painful end to another terrible week, one that left the major indexes down more than 6 percent.

The reality of a protracted recession, and the likelihood that government intervention can do little to hasten its end, had investors again abandoning stocks, particularly those of struggling financial companies.

Yesterday's drop, which shaved 100 points off the Dow Jones industrial average, was led by financial stocks and came a day after the market's best-known indicator dropped to its lowest level since the depths of the last bear market, in 2002. And the Standard & Poor's 500 index, the barometer most closely watched by market pros, came close to its lowest point in nearly 12 years.

The Dow Jones industrials briefly went into positive territory, but quickly turned downward again.

Salamone said investors had been too hopeful in late 2008 and at the start of this year that the new administration would be able to quickly disentangle the economy from its troubles.

The Dow industrials fell 100.28, or 1.3 percent, to 7,365.67 after earlier falling more than 215. On Thursday, the Dow broke through its Nov. 20 low of 7,552.29, and closed at its lowest level since Oct. 9, 2002.

The Dow's 6.2 percent slide for the week was its worst performance since the week of Oct. 10, when it lost 18.2 percent.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index yesterday fell 8.89, or 1.14 percent, to 770.05. The benchmark most watched by traders came within less than 2 points of its Nov. 20 close of 752.44. It remains above its Nov. 21 trading low of 741.02.

The Nasdaq composite index fell 1.59, or 0.11 percent, to 1,441.23.

For the week, the S&P fell 6.9 percent, while the Nasdaq lost 6.1 percent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 2.12 billion shares.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 5.75, or 1.38 percent, to 410.96.

The price of the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose sharply, sending its yield down to 2.79 percent from 2.86 percent. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, fell to 0.26 percent from 0.30 percent late Thursday.