Stock market slammed as Wall Street jitters persist

Trader Robert Charmak left works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday Feb. 8 2018. U.S. stocks are lower Thursday morning as losses from the previous day continue

Hold on to your hats, because the stock market is plummeting. The S&P 500, the index that investors pay the most attention to, is in a correction, down 10.2 percent from its recent high. Many market watchers have been predicting a pullback for some time, saying stock prices had become too expensive relative to company earnings.

The ASX 200 was 1.3 per cent lower at 5,813 at 2:00pm (AEDT), and the All Ordinaries index had dropped 1.4 per cent to 5,914 points.

The S&P 500 gave up 100 points, or 3.8 percent, to 2,581.

The stock market has been backsliding this week, erasing 2018's gains and recording the two largest single-day declines in points ever.

Stocks started to fall in early trading and extended their losses throughout the morning. Major economies around the world are growing in tandem for the first time since the Great Recession, and corporate profits are on the rise. That's also a big change: The market has been stable in the past year because every time it inched lower, investors swooped in looking for bargains and soon sent them higher again.

Rates on the 10-year stood at 2.85 percent Thursday - near a four-year high.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.95, or 3.2 percent, to settle at $59.20 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at the investment firm RSM in NY, said investors see the Fed's plan as the "end of the era of easy money".

The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index is now down 8 percent from the record high it set January 26. It's still up 14 percent over the past year. Those included technology companies, banks, and retailers and travel companies and homebuilders. Natural gas fell 11 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $2.58 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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The Dow was down 501 points, or 2 percent, to 24,397.

All told, the S&P 500 rose 38.55 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,619.55 Friday.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region followed Wall Street sharply lower on Friday. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $1.92 a gallon.

The losses, which began last Friday, put the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index nearly 8 percent below the record high it set two weeks ago.

The broader S&P 500 lost 34 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,647.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.43-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.36-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

Almost 80 per cent of USA companies that have reported so far this earnings season have surprised analysts to the upside. While U.S. companies mostly did well at the end of 2017, a number of them had a weak finish to the year.

Also, the percentage of Main Street investors expecting stocks to fall reached a three-month high in the American Association of Individual Investors' weekly survey.

In Tokyo the Nikkei 225 index rose 1.1 percent. The Nasdaq composite edged up 10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,061.

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