Updated from 3:15 p.m. EDT

After bearing numerous hits in the past few weeks, stocks on Wall Street took another drubbing as a matter of course Wednesday. Bearish economic data, slumping earnings from financial firms and new comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke held the spotlight as traders steadily sold off, a trend reflected in the major indices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 733.08 points, or 7.9%, to 8577.91, and the S&P 500 sank 90.17 points, or 9%, to 907.84. The Nasdaq lost 150.68 points, or 8.5%, to 1628.33.

Wednesday's losses marked the second-worst single-day point loss by the Dow in history. The selloff nearly erased an impressive rebound Monday, when the blue-chip index rose 11% to 8451 and sparked hope that last Friday's low may have marked a bottom in the stock market's recent precipitous declines.

Bernanke addressed the financial crisis in a speech before the Economic Club of New York Wednesday afternoon. Bernanke said a "loss of confidence by investors and the public in the strength of key financial institutions and markets" lies at the heart of the problem and that's why the government acted preemptively.

"The crisis will end when comprehensive responses by political and financial leaders restore that trust, bringing investors back into the market and allowing the normal business of extending credit to households and firms to resume," Bernanke said. "I am not suggesting the way forward will be easy, but I strongly believe that we now have the tools we need to respond with the necessary force to these challenges."

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