Updated from 3:48 p.m. EST
Leaving February Wasn't Enough(At 5:24 p.m. EST) Days like this you feel like the apocalypse is back on. We're coming off the worst February for the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1933, and we open March with more destruction. At the end of the day, the index had plummeted 299.64 points, or 4.2%, to 6763.29 as all 30 stocks fell. Thirteen components shed 5% or more. Only McDonald's ( MCD) came close to breaking through the flat line with its 0.8% decline.
Caterpillar ( CAT) was lower by 9.9%. Bank of America ( BAC) fell 8.1%, and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) gave back 7.4%. Boeing ( BA) crushed. 3M ( MMM) punished. Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) slammed. You get the picture. Right now, no one is safe. None of these stocks are worth owning I guess. Maybe no stock is. Can an index go to zero?
Recently, the index was slumping 244 points, or 3.5%, at 6819 as every component retreated. The worst stock was Citigroup ( C), down nearly 19% at $1.22. That stock price is staggering on its own, but so is this -- nearly 1 billion shares have traded. Also falling more than 10% were Alcoa ( AA), Caterpillar ( CAT) and GE ( GE). Bank of America ( BAC) was down 8.1% at $3.63, but that was well above its low for the day. Not a lot to rejoice, but we don't have much else. Let's just go ahead and write this one off and be glad that 4 p.m. on the East Coast is getting here soon.
The Good News? Day's Almost Over(At 3:38 p.m. EST) Less than half an hour left and the Dow is barely above its session low. For the record, that was under 6800. Awful.
No One's a Winner(At 11:52 a.m. EST) Run for the hills. Seriously, this is getting ugly. Two hours into the trading session Monday, the Dow is losing 213 points, or 3%, at 6850. All 30 stocks were in the red. The worst percentage decliners were Bank of America ( BAC), down 15.2% at $3.35, and General Electric ( GE), lower by 10.5% at $7.62. Going by what I can tell from the charts, it doesn't look like GE has seen that price since 1993. As for the other leading laggards, GM ( GM) was falling 8.8%, while Citigroup ( C), on extremely heavy volume, Alcoa ( AA) and Caterpillar ( CAT) were all surrendering more than 7%. Days like this it's hard to find something positive, so this will have to do for now -- not every stock was getting completely hammered. McDonald's ( MCD) and Microsoft ( MSFT) were holding up better than most, losing less than 1% each. Like a lot of people, I sometimes find myself thinking about better days that are now long gone. I was working at Dow Jones the first time the industrial average closed above 10,000. We got hats to celebrate the occasion. The nation was cheering, Wall Street and Main Street alike. The future was bright, the stock market was unstoppable. At times like this, it's hard to believe we ever had anything other than gloom.
Early Losses Likely(At 8:28 a.m. EST) AIG ( AIG) needs billions more from Washington. Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK.A) had a horrible 2008, says the economy "will be in shambles" this year. Markets are plunging overseas.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is coming off its worst February since 1933, and the index is only at half of where it was in October 2007. Probably no surprise that Dow futures are signaling a weak open when the first trading session of March gets underway. About an hour before the opening bell in New York, index futures on the industrial average were down 134 points at 6918. Considering all the uncertainty in the market, there's simply not a lot of reason for optimism about stocks these days. Eventually there will be, we're just not there yet. Right? Unfortunately, the only thing that does appear certain this morning is a trip below the 7000 mark, if not today, then soon. As for individual stocks, financials were yet again under pressure. Citigroup ( C) was down 6% in the premarket, while Bank of America ( BAC) was even worse, sinking 10.1%. JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) was losing 3%. If we do somehow end up seeing an advance Monday, it looks like the banks won't be the reason.