NEW YORK (AFP) - US equities sank on Thursday (June 9), with the Dow shedding more than 600 points ahead of a key report on soaring consumer prices and after the European Central Bank joined the Federal Reserve in the inflation battle.
The losses accelerated late in the session on a choppy day of trading, as all eyes are focused on the Labour Department's consumer price index for May due out on Friday.
The data is expected to show another big jump in annual inflation, though some economists expect the rate to have slowed slightly from the 8.3 per cent pace in April.
Rising global inflation prompted the ECB to announce it would end its massive bond-buying stimulus as of July 1 and begin hiking interest rates on July 21, joining the growing number of central banks to cease easy-money policies due to pricing pressures.
"High inflation is a major challenge for all of us," the ECB said in a statement.
The Federal Reserve started raising rates in March, and another big half-point hike is expected next week as the US central bank struggles to cool the inflation fires.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.9 per cent to finish the day at 32,272.79.
The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 2.4 per cent to 4,017.82, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index sank 2.8 per cent to close at 11,754.23.
Peter Cardillo of Spartan Capital Securities noted the "nervousness" ahead of the CPI data.
"The market is refocusing on the global central bank fight against inflation," he told AFP, but noted that trading volumes were light, which added to volatility.
Electric carmaker Tesla lost 0.9 per cent after US safety regulators widened a probe into the Autopilot feature that was in use in more than 100 accidents, a step closer to a possible recall.
Target fell 1.4 per cent after it announced a 20 per cent boost in its investor dividend. The move comes two days after the retailer slashed its profit outlook in anticipation of liquidating excess merchandise.