US STOCKS GET CRUSHED: What you need to know

It was an ugly Thursday for the stock market. The Dow lost as many as 300 points, tumbled to its lowest level since February, and is now down 7% from its all-time high.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 16,995.90, -352.83, (-2.03%)
  • S&P 500: 2,036.68, -42.93, (-2.06%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,880.21, -138.84, (-2.77%)

And now, the top stories on Thursday:

  1. The Dow and S&P 500 are negative for the year. The so-called “FANG” stocks — Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google — were some of the biggest losers, and helped send the Nasdaq more than 2% lower. Biotechs also suffered big losses; the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF fell nearly 3% to a three-month low. The Vix, which gauges market expectations for near-term shifts in the S&P 500, surged 15%.
  2. Meanwhile, gold rallied more than 2% to a five-week high above $US1,150 an ounce. Silver gained more than 2%. Government bonds got a strong bid, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year note slipped to a three-month low of 2.075%.
  3. Twitter tumbled below its IPO price of $US26 per share. This means that investors who bought shares at the company’s debut are now losing money. The stock slid in recent weeks amid uncertainty about who will take over as CEO, and after the downbeat outlook for user adoption that executives gave during the most recent earnings call.
  4. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras is resigning. Less than a year after the left-wing Syriza came into power, the government will step aside, and elections will reportedly be held September 20. In a televised address, he said Greece is determined to honour its latest bailout package.
  5. Economists have cut bets that the Federal Reserve will raise rates in September. On Wednesday, minutes from the FOMC meeting indicated that the economy is nearing conditions for a rate hike. However, the Fed’s outlook for inflation, and expressed concerns about a global growth slowdown, leaving investors with less clarity than they had expected. The market-implied probability for a rate hike next month was at 50% before the minutes, but it fell to around 30% after.
  6. Crude oil came closer to $US40 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell to as low as $US40.21 per barrel early in the day before climbing off the lows. The front-month contract, for September delivery, expires on Thursday. Yesterday, the Energy Information Administration reported a larger-than-expected build in oil inventories.
  7. In economic data out today, initial jobless claims totaled 277,000 last week, climbing more than expected. The four-week average of claims for first-ever claims for unemployment insurance rose by 5,500 to 271,500, still near a 15-year low.
  8. Existing home sales rose 2% to an annual rate of 5.59 million last month, the highest in eight years. The National Association of Realtors said single-family home sales rose at the fastest rate since February 2007. The median price of an existing home jumped 5.6% to $US234,000; the NAR said accelerating home prices could slow demand.
  9. The Philadelphia Fed’s index on manufacturing activity came in at 8.3 for August, beating the expectation for a 6.8 print. Barclays economists took this as a sign of “modest expansion” in the region, after data out Monday showed that the Empire State manufacturing index plunged to the lowest level since 2009.

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