Expectations that Moody's plans to announce its long-anticipated downgrades of 15 global banks at the close also exacerbated losses in the final hour of trading, pushing all three major U.S. equity indices lower by about 2%. The action in other asset classes was volatile as well with gold losing $50, bond yields flirting with a dip below 1.6%, and oil breaking below $80 a barrel. The dollar rallied by almost 1% as demand for safe-haven assets rose. Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 251 points, or 1.96%, to close at 12,573, just above a low of 12,561 on the day. The S&P 500 lost 30 points, or 2.23%, to finish at 1325. The Nasdaq was hit the hardest, dropping more than 71 points, or 2.44%, to settle at 2859, snapping a five-day winning streak in dramatic fashion.
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks suffered their worst single-day drop in three weeks Thursday as investors were spooked by a gloomy batch of global economic data, a bearish trading call by Goldman Sachs and disappointment with the outcome of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting.