Dow Jones Industrial Average Plummets to Another Triple-Digit Loss On Weak Data, Ebola Fears

Retail sales, producer price index unexpectedly fell last month

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Oct 15, 2014 at 4:22 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) dove 173 points -- and at one point was down more than 460 points, and below the 16,000 mark -- for its fifth losing session in a row, pressured by weak economic data and escalating fears of an Ebola outbreak. When all was said and done, the blue-chip index was at its lowest point since April. The S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) fared little better, both settling with solid losses. Airline stocks were among the hardest hit, due to another positive Ebola diagnosis in the U.S.; financials also got crushed, as earnings data over the past few days has failed to impress. Likewise, energy names faced pressure, as crude futures continued their recent sell-off. Amid this broad-market retreat, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) -- known popularly as the market's "fear gauge" -- soared to multi-year highs.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,141.74) was down by as many as 460 points at its intraday low of 15,855.12, but managed to pare some of its losses to end the session 173.5 points, or 1.1%, south of breakeven. The index hasn't seen these levels since April 11. Meanwhile, all but six of the DJI's 30 components finished lower, led by JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s (NYSE:JPM) 4.2% loss. On the other hand, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) paced the six blue-chip winners, tacking on 1.2%, despite a round of price-target reductions.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,862.49) dropped 15.2 points, or 0.8%, for its lowest close since mid-April. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,215.32) fared the best of the bunch, losing "only" 11.9 points, or 0.3%.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 26.25) spiked 3.5 points, or 15.2%, to close at its highest level since mid-2012. In addition, the market's "fear gauge" hit an intraday high of 31.06 -- a mark not toppled since late 2011.

CLOSING SUMMARY – INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY – NYSE AND NASDAQ

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book showed modest-to-moderate growth throughout the central bank's 12 districts, but few signs of inflation. Among the biggest highlights was growth in the commercial construction and transportation sectors. However, consumer spending was reportedly light to moderate, as the latest retail sales numbers from the Commerce Department corroborated. (USA Today; Bloomberg)
  2. A second worker from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas tested positive for Ebola, just a day after she flew back to Dallas from Cleveland. Officials are reaching out to passengers who shared a flight with the patient, who showed no signs of illness during her travels, according to crew members. (The New York Times)
  3. Options traders placed bullish bets on P, as the firm prepares for its upcoming turn in the earnings confessional.
  4. Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) got slammed by the latest Ebola news, and speculators are seeking additional short-term losses.
  5. On the other hand, this pharmaceutical stock -- and several others -- got a major lift from the deadly disease's advance.
EARNINGS

For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.

STOCKS – NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITY

STOCKS – NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

Commodities:

November-dated crude hit a nearly four-year low of $80.01 per barrel, falling in sympathy with the equity markets, amid oversupply and slackening demand. By the close of the session, however, liquid gold was down just 6 cents, or 0.1%, at $81.78 per barrel -- though this was still the lowest settlement price in more than two years.

Gold climbed for its third consecutive session, as weak economic data -- including a surprise retreat in the producer price index (PPI) -- and the broad-market sell-off pushed traders toward safe-haven investments. The December-dated contract added $10.50, or 0.9%, to settle at $1,244.80 per ounce, and touched a one-month high in intraday trading.

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