Business, Economics and Jobs

Markets plunges, U.S. stocks fall over global economy fears (UPDATE)

Stock markets across the world have gone into freefall.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 4 percent Thursday as the U.S. stock market slumped over investor fears of the debt crisis in Europe and a weakening economic outlook in the United States.

The drop in the U.S. stock markets today followed a one-day rally on Wednesday after nearly two weeks of steady declines.

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The Dow had fallen more than 500 points to a low of 11,383.68 by the time the markets closed Thursday, erasing all its gains for 2011, the Dow Jones newswire reports.

The Dow is now down more than 1,100 points from July 21, the Associated Press says.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell almost 5 percent, bringing it well below its recent high of 1,363 reached on April 29, according to the AP.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index dropped more than 5 percent as well.

Oil fell 4 percent to $88 a barrel amid worries that demand will fall because of the slowing economy in the United States.

Investors are increasingly concerned about Europe’s debt troubles spreading to Italy and Spain, Dow Jones reports.

Most stock markets in Europe were down at least 2 percent as the trading day there drew to a close, according to the Los Angeles Times.