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Dow Tumbles More Than 200 Points as Traders Gripped by Global Fears

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks tumbled on Thursday the most in a month as fears about China's slowing economy and the crisis in Ukraine gripped investors, and outweighed an increase in retail sales. 

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 230 points, or 1.4%, to 16,110.08, while the S&P 500 dropped 1.2% to 1,846.35. The Nasdaq slumped 1.5% to 4,260.42.
  • U.S. February retail sales increased 0.3% vs. expectations of a 0.2% rise. Initial jobless claims in the week ended March 8 fell 9,000 to 315,000 vs. expectations of a rise to 330,000. The four-week moving average also fell, down 6,250 to 330,500.
  • Goldman Sachs cut its first-quarter GDP estimate for the U.S. by two-tenths to 1.5%. "Although February retail sales rose a bit more than expected, negative back revisions more than offset the front-month surprise," Chief Economist Jan Hatzius said in a note.
  • International markets were mostly lower. The DAX in Germany was off 1.86%, the FTSE in London was down 1.01%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng fell 0.67%, the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed lower by 0.1% and the Shanghai Composite finished up 1.07%.
  • The stream of lackluster Chinese data continued. Figures overnight showed Chinese industrial output in January-February rose 8.6% from a year earlier but was down from 9.7% in December. Retail sales for the same period were also higher, but failed to meet expectations.
  • In Ukraine, lawmakers have voted unanimously to create a National Guard of 60,000 or more volunteers amid their worries that Russian troops have amassed themselves near the border between the two countries, and ahead of a Sunday referendum in Crimea on whether citizens want to join Russia. Pro-Russian forces are currently in control of Crimea.
  • Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) tacked on 0.23% after the retail giant said that it was hiking the price of its Prime service for existing regular members to $99 from $79.
  • Plug Power (PLUG) surged 17.8% Thursday after the maker of fuel cells reported a narrowing of adjusted fourth-quarter loss to an in-line 8 cents a share on stronger-than-expected revenue of $8 million. Analysts, on average, were expecting revenue of $7.45 million. Sales orders for 2014 have already exceeded $60 million, the company said. Williams-Sonoma (WSM) gained 9.8% after it forecast same-store sales growth of 5% to 7% this year, beating expectations.
  • Krispy Kreme (KKD) was up 1.2% after it forecast adjusted earnings per share of 73 cents to 79 cents in fiscal 2015.
  • General Electric (GE) decreased 1.6% after announcing that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the IPO of its North American Retail Finance business.
  • JetBlue Airways (JBLU) added 0.69% after revealing that it has agreed to sell its wholly- owned subsidiary LiveTV to Thales Group for $400 million.


-- By Jane Searle and Andrea Tse in New York

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