Trading in the Nasdaq Composite Index was halted on Monday after technology stocks plunged massively, leading the Nasdaq down 115.42 – or 6.99% – to 1535.50, its largest decline ever. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also saw its biggest point plunge ever falling 554.26, or 7.2%, to 7,161.15. It marked the first time that Nasdaq invoked the cease trading rule that was instituted ten years ago after the 1987 Black Monday stock market crash. The rule provides for the stoppage of trading in all indexes if the Dow falls 350 points on a given day. Trading was stopped for half an hour at that level, but shares continued their free fall landing, quickly hitting the next safety net at 550 points where trading ceased for the day. Shares around the world have plummeted on fears of weak economies in Asia. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index had fallen again on Monday, closing down 6% and leaving American companies dependent upon profits from overseas increasingly more vulnerable. Oddly, the only notable technology stock that survived the slaughter was Apple Computer Co, which rose a respectable $0.1875 to close at $16.75. Shares had risen as high as $18.125 on speculation that Steve jobs will be named permanent CEO at the struggling company. Analysts seem to think the declines are part correction and part panic and that without the suspension rules in place, it probably couldn’t have got much worse. Some say another slight drop may occur before things get better, however. The consensus on Wall Street is that while small cap companies are more vulnerable to the potential profit woes being signaled in Asian markets, large cap companies are a good buy right now. Big name technology stocks are cheap and should be too attractive too pass up. The market activity spurred a comment from the White House, where a spokesman tried to assuage fears with a reminder that the US economy is strong, and that is what matters. The Dow decline edged out the 508-point drop in 1987, but was only about a third as bad percentage-wise. Trading was also halted on Monday in some Latin American markets, including the Mexican Bourse.
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