Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
New York - AFP
US stocks Thursday plummeted about two percent in a broad sell-off attributed to a range of factors, including weak eurozone data, the Argentine debt default and disappointing US corporate earnings.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 317.06 points (1.88 percent) to 16,563.30, erasing all its gains since the end of 2013.
The broad-based S&P 500 sank 39.40 (2.00 percent) to 1,930.67, a seven-week low, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 93.13 (2.09 percent) to 4,369.77.
The rout followed a dreary day on European bourses, where the German DAX sank nearly two percent and indices in Britain and France fell sharply after eurozone data revived concerns about deflation and Adidas issued an earnings warning linked to the crisis in Ukraine.
Other big drags on the market included the Argentine debt default and disappointing earnings from Whole Foods Market (-2.3 percent), Kraft Foods (-6.4 percent) and others.
Some analysts also pointed to lingering concerns about high stock valuations after a string of records this summer by the Dow and S&P 500.
Michael James of Wedbush Securities said a "terrible" report by the Institute of Supply Management on midwestern manufacturing revived concerns about the US economic recovery.
"There isn't one thing you can point to," James said. "It's an accumulation of concerns that have kind of broken the dam today."
All 30 members of the Dow blue-chip club finished lower.
The biggest loser was oil giant ExxonMobil, which sank 4.2 percent after it reported a 5.7 percent drop in oil and gas output even as it scored a 28 percent rise in second-quarter earnings.
Other big losers included Chevron (-2.5 percent), which reports earnings Friday, and Nike (-3.1 percent).
Johnson & Johnson, also in the Dow, dropped 2.2 percent on reports it is recalling a surgical tool used to eliminate fibroids in women on concerns the device can spread cancers.
Leading tech firms were not spared. Apple lost 2.6 percent and Facebook and Google both dropped 2.7 percent.
US retailing giant Target lost 2.9 percent as it tapped former top Pepsi executive Brian Cornell as its new chief executive seven months after a data-hacking scandal rocked the company.
Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury edged up to 2.56 percent from 2.55 percent Wednesday, while the 30-year held steady at 3.31 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.