June 29, 2010, 2:36 p.m. EDT
By Donna Kardos
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks tumbled Tuesday as a drop in U.S. consumer confidence added to mounting worries of how a slowdown in China and debt problems in Europe may affect global growth.
Investors fled to safety assets, sending the dollar, gold and Treasurys higher. The rise in Treasurys sent the yield on the 10-year note below 3%, to its lowest level in more than a year. Bond yields move inversely to prices.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was below 10000, sinking 242 points, or 2.4%, to 9896 in recent trading. All of the measure’s 30 components were in the red. Among its hardest-hit, Boeing dropped 5.4%, Alcoa slid 5.1% and American Express fell 4.5%.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.7% to 1045, its lowest intraday level since May 25. The index was also on track to finish below its lowest close of 2010 of 1050.47 on June 7. All of the measure’s sectors were negative, led by declines in the industrials, technology and financial sectors. Consumer-staples and health-care stocks, which are considered safety sector, posted the smallest declines.
The Nasdaq Composite slid 3.2% to 2150, stung by a 4.1% drop in Apple, a 3.6% slide in Microsoft and a 5.7% decline in Amazon.com.
The selloff came as a sharp drop in U.S. consumer confidence added to the market’s worries after the Conference Board sharply revised lower its April leading economic indicator for China, raising fears that a key driver of the global economy could slow.
“This was a one-two smack for the market and you really just have a huge rush away from risk,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital. “It’s a concern of whether this global economic recovery will continue or if it will be derailed due to a slowdown in China or the ongoing European debt crisis.”
Also weighing, investors are fretting over how European banks will fare after the end of the European Central Bank’s 12-month liquidity facility on Thursday.
“The question is whether these banks in Europe can withstand these massive repayments,” Sarhan said.
The euro was recently trading at $1.2199, down from $1.2274 late Monday in New York. The U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of six others, jumped 0.5%.
Investors said there was renewed concern that China’s demand for materials and commodities could sink if its economy cools. Crude-oil prices tumbled more than 3% on Tuesday, falling below $76 a barrel.
New data on the U.S. housing market did little to encourage investors. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-prices indexes improved slightly in April over the previous month, mostly thanks to the demand for homes ahead of the expiration of the federal tax credit.
The latest readings come on the heels of disappointing data last week on home-sales activity, including both new and existing units. Traders are particularly interested in the housing market as a harbinger of possible recovery or struggle in the U.S. economy, since the sector’s meltdown was a key catalyst in causing the recent recession.
Among stocks in focus, Micron Technology lost 12%. The chip maker late Monday reported stronger-than-forecast earnings and sales but also projected flat shipments in a key segment.
American depositary shares of Baidu fell 7.1% as Google said it would change the way it operates in China as it seeks to renew a license. Google fell 2.8%.
Barnes & Noble’s fiscal fourth-quarter loss widened despite stronger-than-expected sales, as the world’s biggest brick-and-mortar bookseller gave a weak outlook. Shares skidded 15%.