Sept 29, 2008 -- The day started with silence -- the iconic opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange failed to sound -- and things just got worse from there, ending in the single biggest one-day point loss in history.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 777.68 to close at 10,365.45. The previous biggest point drop came on Sept. 17, 2001, the first day the market reopened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
A jittery stock market spent all morning in negative territory as investors worried about the $700 billion bailout package before Congress today. By 1:40 p.m. it became clear that the House was not going to pass the bill, and stocks went into a freefall; the Dow fell 400 points in 10 minutes before eventually dropping 700 points below Friday's close.
The Nasdaq and S&P 500 also posted massive losses, down 9.1 percent and 8.8 percent respectively.
While the Dow ended up losing 6.98 percent today, it stayed below the 22.6 percent drop seen on the Black Monday crash of October 1987 -- the worst day in market history -- and the double-digit drops seen during the start of the Great Depression.
Investors on the stock exchange floor watched TVs nervously as the votes in the House were tallied. To put it simply: the mood was down. At one point traders were heard yelling, "Congress should be jailed!"
Investors moved quickly to move their cash away from stocks and into safer investments. The yield on the three-month Treasury bill fell to 0.32 percent from 0.87 percent Friday. Basically, investors were willing to take an almost nonexistent return on their investment as long as they were guaranteed not to lose their money.
The price of gold was also up $5.30 to $888.20 an ounce.
The price of oil plunged $10.52 to settle at $96.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as investors feared that a worsening global economy would hamper demand for crude.