The stock market continued its downward spiral Thursday, dropping more than 600 points in another turbulent day of trading as credit uncertainties and forecasts of a prolonged and deep economic recession spooked investors.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 600 points in a late flurry of selling, dipping below 8,700 points for the first time in more than five years. The index closed down 678.91 points or 7.3% to 8,579.19. It was the lowest level for the Dow since 2002.
The Dow started out up more than 100 points in the wake of a global initiative to lower interest rates, but that soon turned to a deficit as investors worried over the availability of cash. A big sell-off came in the late afternoon when Standard & Poor’s put Dow component General Motors on credit watch negative, sending shares of the auto giant down 30%. Earlier in the day a report in the Wall Street Journal quoted economists who predicted the contraction in the U.S. economy could last into the first quarter of next year.
Cable stocks, which flirted with some gains during the early part of the day, finished inline with the rest of the market. Leading the decliners among cable operators was Mediacom Communications, down $1.03 each (22.6%) to $3.52, its lowest point since 2002. All of the other cable operators showed declines – Cablevision Systems dipped 48 cents (2.8%) to $16.88, its lowest point since 2004; Time Warner Cable was down 37 cents (1.7%) to $20.90; Comcast fell 68 cents (4%) to $16.88; and Charter Communications was down 10 cents (19.2%) to 42 cents.
Satellite stocks were battered as well – Dish Network hit a 52-week low, down $2.10 each (11.5%) to $16.09 per share and DirecTV Group fell $2.19 each (9.8%) to $20.09.
Programmers also felt the heat, with Time Warner Inc. closing at $10.07 (down 71 cents or 6.6%), its lowest level since 2003, and Viacom down 88 cents (4.1%) to $20.68, a two-year low. News Corp, which has lost a staggering 55% ($11.49 per share) of its value this year, reached yet another 52-week low, closing at $9.21 per share, down 85 cents each or 8.5%.
The Walt Disney Co. fell $1.88 each (7.3%) to $23.80 (its lowest point in more than a year); Discovery Communications was down 16 cents (1.4%) to $11.53; Liberty Entertainment fell $1.99 each (10.5%) to $17.04 and Crown Media dipped 44 cents (11.9%) to $3.27 per share.