U.S. markets staged a comeback in the last hour of trading, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 249 points, or 1.55 percent. The Dow was down as many as 566 points earlier today.
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The S&P 500 closed down 22 points, or 1.19 percent. The Nasdaq lost 5 points, or .11 percent, after slumping nearly 4 percent earlier in the session. Eight stocks in the S&P 500 fell more than 9 percent today.
The Dow and S&P are each down more than 10 percent for the year.
Renewed concerns over China’s slowing economy and the steep drop in oil prices have been blamed for the market whiplash. U.S. crude futures tumbled 6 percent to $26.76 a gallon. Oil is now at its lowest level since May 2003.
Dave Lutz, managing director at Jones Trading, said the bearish sentiment on oil was driving the sell-off but he argued that now was also a good time to buy stocks at a deep discount.
“So many companies are getting hammered for no reason,” he told ABC News. “We’re not seeing major selling by mutual funds. Hopefully, we’ve seen the bottom of the market.”
Lutz said markets could drop further from current levels, depending on where oil finally settles.
“Oil could go to the teens but it would be short-lived. We’re in the final innings of oil breaking down,” he noted.
U.S. stocks were far from alone in today’s sell-off. Stocks in Asia and Europe plunged earlier with Japan’s Nikkei down 3.7 percent. Japanese equities are officially in bear market territory.