Dow tumbles more than 800 points as Treasury yields tick higher

U.S. stocks plunged Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average recording its largest single-day point drop since February. Big tech stocks helped fuel the selling as investors weigh the threat of rising U.S. treasury yields and global trade spats.

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The Dow tumbled 831.83 points, or 3.15 percent, to 25,598.74. The S&P 500 fell 94.66 points, about 3.3 percent, to 2,786.26. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 315.97 points, or 4.08 percent, to 7,422.05.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq and the Russell 2000, a snapshot of domestic companies, are both on pace for the worst start to a fourth quarter since 2008, same for  the S&P 500 and the Dow, as tracked by Dow Jones Market Data.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES28015.06+337.27+1.22%
SP500S&P 5003145.91+28.48+0.91%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX8656.528802+85.83+1.00%

The Nasdaq slid to a 3-month low led by names including Amazon, which dipped into correction territory with shares falling more than 10 percent from their record closing high on Sept. 4. Apple, Microsoft and Facebook also were down on the day.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AMZNAMAZON.COM INC.1,751.60+11.12+0.64%
FBFACEBOOK INC.201.05+1.69+0.85%
MSFTMICROSOFT CORP.151.75+1.82+1.21%
AAPLAPPLE INC.270.71+5.13+1.93%

The scope and speed of the session's fall appeared to have seriously rattled experienced investors: The CBOE VIX Index, a closely watched measure of investor anxiety that is sometimes called the "fear gauge," jumped more than 25 percent to its highest level since April 11.

A combination of threats drove the sell-off. The International Monetary Fund earlier this week cut its outlook for growth in the global economy to 3.7 percent from 3.9 percent, partly because of worsening trade tensions between the U.S. and China. The intensifying clash between Italy's new government and the European Union over the nation's budget threatened to spread to other euro-based economies. Meanwhile, American interest rates are climbing, something that weighs on corporate earnings and the ability of consumers to spend money. The possibility that the U.S. central bank will accelerate its interest rate hikes weighed on investor sentiment.

Traders were closely monitoring Treasury yields, which were hovering around a 7-year high and creeping higher after steadying Tuesday.

The S&P 500 is on a five-day losing streak, its worst fall in six months and the longest sequence of daily declines since a nine-day string of losses ended Nov. 4, 2016.

The downdraft was not the result of a few major traders dumping shares. The volume on the New York Stock Exchange was running about 20 percent above the one-month average, indicating that the sell-off was broad-based.

Economic data released Wednesday included the producer price index (PPI), a key reading on inflation. The PPI increased 0.2 percent in September. The reading was in line with expectations.

Commodities were mostly lower Wednesday.

FOX Business' Ken Martin and Charles Brady contributed to this report.