U.S. Stocks Fall


U.S. stocks sank, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to its worst start to a year, as financial shares tumbled to an almost 14-year low on speculation losses will force banks to raise more capital.

State Street Corp., the largest money manager for institutions, tumbled 59 percent after unrealized bond losses almost doubled. Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. slumped more than 23 percent on an analyst’s prediction that they’ll need to take steps to shore up their balance sheets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 4 percent, the most on an Inauguration Day in the measure’s 112-year history.

The S&P 500 sank 5.3 percent to 805.22. The S&P 500 Financials Index fell 17 percent to below its lowest closing level since March 1995 as concern European banks need more capital also weighed on the group. The Dow average slid 332.13 points to 7,949.09.

The S&P 500 is off to its worst start to a year, shattering the biggest rally since World War II, as analysts cut earnings estimates by a record 83 percentage points and companies signal worse to come.

The S&P 500 is down 11 percent in the first 12 trading days of 2009, exceeding last year’s 9.2 percent drop, according to data compiled by Bloomberg going back to 1928. The decline helped erase more than two-thirds of a 24 percent rally since Nov. 20 as optimism that government spending would revive the economy evaporated.


TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
1/20/2009 1:22:59 PM