Investors today flip-flopped between optimism and fear, sending stocks on a wild yo-yo ride as governments raced to stabilize world financial markets.
Despite a coordinated effort early this morning by the world's central banks to jointly cut interest rates, investors couldn't decide if the measures were sufficient and if the market had yet hit bottom, meaning it would finally be safe to start buying again.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down as much as 250 points and up as much as 180 points today before closing down 189 points. It was the sixth straight day of loses on Wall Street.
The Nasdaq lost 0.8 percent today and the S&P 500 lost 1.1 percent.
The Dow had lost 13 percent of its value in the past five days and 20 percent in the last 12 days. Today added another 2 percent on to those losses.
"We're due for some type of bounce," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "We know that. It's going to bounce eventually."
"The Fed and world governments have done a lot up until now and clearly nothing has worked. This move here is one the last bullets in the chamber," he added.
Detrick warned though that many investors are pulling their money out of hedge funds, which is likely to cause further downward pressure for the market. Also, companies are now starting to report quarterly earnings that could disappoint investors.
Like many on Wall Street this morning, R. Don Elsey, CFO of Emergent Biosolutions, said that with all the governments working together, he believes the markets will recover but "it is going to take time."
"It will help but it is just one of many things that has to happen though. By itself it's not going to cure the issues we have today," Elsey said.
Overseas, the picture was not quite as optimistic.
Japan's Nikkei index fell 9.4 percent, its worst showing since the crash of 1987, following yesterday's 500-point drop in the Dow. European markets were also in for a bad start, but then came word of the international government action.
The United States Federal Reserve, along with the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, Sweden's central bank, the Swiss National Bank and China's central bank, all cut interest rates by half a percentage point.
In the U.S., that means the key Fed Funds rate now stands at 1.5 percent, down from 2 percent and at its lowest point since September 2004.
In Europe, the rate cut helped struggling stocks to rally, pushing Great Britain's FTSE index off from its lows and into positive territory. But that rally didn't last long, with the market there ending the day down 5.2 percent. The German DAX also lost 5.9 percent and Paris' main stock index lost 6.3 percent.
Back in the U.S., the Dow started the day down 230 points. Those losses were quickly erased with the Dow turning positive just 10 minutes into the trading day. But then, just 40 minutes later, stocks again turned negative and stayed there for most of the morning. At 12:35 p.m., the Dow was down 250 points but by 1:15 p.m., the roller-coaster ride started to turn again with stocks going positive, then negative and then staying positive around 1:40 p.m.
But then at 3:39 p.m., as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson gave an update on the economy and the $700 billion government bailout, stocks again went negative. And then they just kept falling.