US stocks plummeted on Monday, following a renewed rout in global markets, under severe pressure from continued fears of slowing growth in China spilling over internationally.
The major averages came sharply off lows in midday trade, with the Nasdaq off less than half a percent after earlier falling 8.8 percent. Apple reversed losses to briefly jump more than 2 percent.
“There was sort of a lack of follow-through after the morning’s crazy action in the overall market,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth. “The selling really dissipated once we got to around 10 o’clock.”
He attributed some of the late morning gains to a short squeeze and bargain hunting.
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S&P 500 traded about 20 points lower as the tech sector attempted slight gains.
The index briefly lost 100 points in the open, initially joining the other major averages in correction territory before trading right on the edge.
The Dow Jones industrial average traded about 120 points lower after falling as much as 1,089 points, or 6.6 percent lower, in the open. The index traveled more than 3,000 points in down and up moves during the first 90 minutes of trade.
Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, noted that the sharp opening losses were due to great uncertainty among traders and the implementation of a rare market rule.
The New York Stock Exchange invoked Rule 48 for the Monday stock market open, Dow Jones reported.
The rule allows NYSE to open stocks without indications. “It was set up for situations like this,” Hogan said. The rule was last used in the financial crisis.
Stock index futures for several major indices fell several percentage points before the open to hit limit down levels.
Circuit breakers for the S&P 500 will halt trade when the index decreases from its previous close by the following three levels: 7 percent, 13 percent, and 20 percent.
“Fear has taken over. The market topped out last week,” said Adam Sarhan, CEO of Sarhan Capital. “We saw important technical levels break last week. Huge shift in investor psychology.”
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“The market is not falling on actual facets of a sub-prime situation. It’s falling on fear of the unload of China. That’s really behind this move,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 32. Earlier in the session the index leaped above 50 for the first time since February 2009.
“When the VIX is this high it means there’s some panic out there,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.
However, he said with stocks more than halving losses he “wouldn’t be surprised if we closed positive.” “If you could move it that far you could move it another 350 points” on the Dow,” he said.
Overseas, European stocks plunged, with the STOXX Europe 600 down more than 5 percent, while the Shanghai Composite dropped 8.5 percent, its greatest one-day drop since 2007.
Treasury yields came off session lows, with the U.S. 10-year yield at 2.02 percent and the 2-year yield at 0.59 percent.
The US dollar fell more than 1.5 percent against major world currencies, with the euro near $ 1.16 and the yen stronger at 119 yen versus the greenback.
The Dow Jones industrial average traded down about 129 points, or 0.79 percent, at 16,332, with UnitedHealth the greatest laggard and Intel leading advancers.
The S&P 500 traded down 19 points, or 0.99 percent, at 1,951, with energy leading most sectors lower and the tech sector briefly attempting gains.
The Nasdaq Composite traded down 19 points, or 0.41 percent, at 4,686.
The Dow transports more than halved losses to trade about 0.9 percent lower.
About five stocks declined for every advancer on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 764 million and a composite volume of 3.3 billion as of 12:45 p.m.
Crude oil futures for October delivery fell $ 1.33 to $ 39.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures for December delivery fell $ 2.70 to $ 1,157.00 an ounce in midday trade.
Earlier, crude oil futures for October delivery fell as much as $ 2.70 to $ 37.75 a barrel, a six-and-a-half-year low.
No major economic data or earnings releases were due Monday.
Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart will speak at 3:55 p.m.