Indices Plummet to Session Lows

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Stocks continued sharply lower late this afternoon, crashing through their worst levels of the session.

Recently, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was off 176 to 7876. Inthe broader market, the

S&P 500

has given up 29 to 998. Meanwhile,the

Nasdaq Composite Index

has been sideswiped today. It has dropped90 to 1550, while the small-cap

Russell 2000

has relinquished 15 to 344. (The indices continued to worsen after these figures were compiled, with the Dow down 225 and the Nasdaq off 101.)

The Dow and the Nasdaq are once again well below their Dec. 31, 1997, closes of 7908.25 and 1570.35, respectively. The S&P 500 hasn't yet challenged its 1997 finish of 970.43, dipping only as low as 997.15 today, but the Russell 2000 has been short of its '97 close of 437.02 for more than a month.

In the U.S. government debt market, the 30-year Treasury bond surged as stock prices collapsed. The long bond was up 19/32 to 102 29/32, yielding a record-low 5.31%.

Looking at a longer-term view of the market, Robin Griffiths, chieftechnical analyst at

HSBC James Capel

, said the market may have a technical rally between now and late October and that right now stocks are in the midst of a "nasty correction" in a bull market. He said the "brilliant" time to buy is in late October, when he believes markets worldwide will reach their lows.