US shares sink over 2 per cent on global economy worries

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of Aug 20, 2015 in New York City.
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of Aug 20, 2015 in New York City.AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - US shares sank more than 2 per cent on Thursday with the Dow dropping to its lowest level for 2015 as worries spread about the strength of the world economy.

The broad-based selloff capped a day of sharp falls from Asia to Europe, as concerns mounted that China’s slowdown would drag on global growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 358.04 points (2.06 per cent) at 16,990.69.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 43.88 (2.11 per cent) to 2,035.73, while the tech-rich Nasdaq gave up 141.56 (2.82 per cent) at 4,877.49.

The Dow sank below its previous low for the year, 17,164.95 on Jan 31, pulled under in part by a tough downgrade of entertainment giant Walt Disney by analysts at broker Bernstein Research.

Disney shares tumbled 6 per cent, sucking others in the sector with them: Netflix (-7.8 per cent), Twenty-First Century Fox (-4.2 per cent), Viacom (-5.7 per cent), DreamWorks (-5.4 per cent) and CBS Corp (-5.1 per cent).

Banks also suffered, with Bank of America off 4.2 per cent, Morgan Stanley 3.4 per cent and JPMorgan Chase 2.5 per cent.

In top tech stocks, Apple fell 2.1 per cent, Facebook 5 per cent and Amazon 3.2 per cent. During the session Twitter shares shrank below their 2013 IPO price of US$26 for the first time, going as low as US$25.92, but ended exactly on the IPO mark, off 5.8 per cent.

Peter Cardillo of Rockwell Global Capital said the selloff could mark the start of  “a full-blown correction... for the reasons we all know about.”

He pointed to “oil prices continuing to go down, weaker economic global activity – and that’s obviously stemming from China.”

Evidence for that could be seen elsewhere among the Dow blue chips, with, after Disney, the biggest losers Merck (-4.5 per cent) and Boeing (-4.0 per cent).

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.07 per cent from 2.2 per cent Tuesday, while the 30-year dropped to 2.75 per cent from 2.86 per cent.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.