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Stocks continued a volatile run Thursday as concerns over global growth ignited a sharp selloff.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 334 points, or 2%, to 16659, the S&P 500 dropped 40.7 points, or 2.1%, to 1928, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 90.3 points, or 2%, to 4378.
Wall Street has been on a see-saw in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the Dow lost 272 points amid jitters over economic growth in Europe and elsewhere. The market bounced back a day later, with the Dow posting its biggest gain of the year, when the Federal Reserve indicated it would take global struggles into account when setting a timeline to raise interest rates.
On Thursday, concerns over global growth again cast a shadow over stocks. The Dow was down 345 points at its lowest level, the biggest intraday decline in 16 months.
“The fear factor is beginning to hit panic levels as worries about a worldwide economic slowdown become real, despite round after round of stimulus and central bank intervention,” Todd M. Schoenberger, president of J. Streicher Asset Management, said in an email.
The U.S. Labor Department said jobless claims almost dropped to their lowest level since before the recession. New claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000 last week.
On the corporate front, Alcoa (NYSE:AA) dropped 4.2% even though the aluminum maker topped expectations for the third-quarter. PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) reported better earnings and revenue, thanks to higher beverage and snack volumes. Shares ticked 0.4% lower.
In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil slid $1.54, or 1.8%, to $85.77 a barrel. That’s the lowest level since December 2012. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline declined to a nearly four-year low, falling five cents, or 2%, at $2.27 a gallon.