Dow plummets 800 points on worsening global recession fears

Stocks and oil prices plummeted Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial tumbling 800 points -- the fourth largest daily point drop on record and the worst this year -- as increasing global recession fears drove Wall Street investors to the safety of U.S. government debt.

The yield, or interest rate, of the Treasury’s 2-year note exceeded the yield on the 10-year Treasury, an ominous signal, known as an inverted yield curve, that a recession is on the way.

Feeding fears of a global recession was a report that Chinese industrial production was climbing at its weakest rate in 17 years and Germany’s economy -- Europe’s strongest -- was actually shrinking.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 33061.57 +153.30 +0.47%
SP500 S&P 500 4221.02 +41.19 +0.99%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 13100.981825 +165.70 +1.28%

Gold, often seen as a haven for investor assets, settled 0.91 percent at $1,515.90, a 52-week high and the highest level in more than six years.

Oil also tanked on global recession concerns, with the benchmark U.S. crude falling 5 percent to $54.23 per barrel.

Germany's economy shrank by 0.1 percent in the second quarter from the previous three-month period as global trade conflicts and troubles in the auto industry weighed on Europe's largest economy.

The major European markets ended the day drastically lower with the German Dax and French CAC losing more than 2 percent each.

The news was similar in Asia as China's factory output, retail spending and investment weakened in July, suggesting the world's second-largest economy faces downward pressure on growth.

China's factory output rose 4.8 percent over a year earlier, a marked decline from June's 6.3 percent. Retail sales growth slowed to 7.6 percent from the previous month's 9.8 percent.

Japan's Nikkei added nearly 1 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up less than 0.1 percent and the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.4 percent.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
M MACY'S INC. 13.74 +0.15 +1.14%
KSS KOHL'S CORP. 17.99 -0.32 -1.75%
JWN NORDSTROM INC. 16.03 +0.74 +4.84%

Macy's reported a 48 percent drop in quarterly profit and cut its forecast for full-year adjusted earnings on Wednesday, sending shares tumbling. Rival retailers Kohl's, Target and Nordstrom also fell.

Technology shares, including Apple, also took a hit. Chipmakers joined the selling.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AAPL APPLE INC. 180.09 +2.84 +1.60%
INTC INTEL CORP. 31.13 -0.31 -0.99%
XLNX n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
MU MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC. 69.09 +0.89 +1.30%

Shares of commercial and investment banks were also hammered.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
JPM JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. 137.58 +1.87 +1.38%
WFC WELLS FARGO & CO. 40.06 +0.25 +0.63%
BAC BANK OF AMERICA CORP. 27.79 +0.22 +0.80%
GS THE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC. 316.48 -7.28 -2.25%
MS MORGAN STANLEY 82.07 +0.31 +0.38%

On the economic front, the Labor Department said on Wednesday import prices increased 0.2 percent last month as a rebound in the cost of petroleum products offset declines in prices for capital goods and motor vehicles.

The Associated Press contributed to this article