Major market indexes opened lower and the selling accelerated as the day wore on. The drop in oil and metals prices hurt mining, metals and energy stocks. Stocks began sliding early this month and have returned some of the gains from a powerful rally in October.
The Dow Jones industrial average sank 254.15 points, or 1.4 percent, to 17,448.07. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 29.03 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,045.97. The Nasdaq composite index fell 61.94 points, or 1.2 percent, to 5,005.08.
The S&P 500 has fallen for six out of the last seven days, and Thursday’s decline was the largest over that span. While October was the best month for the market in four years, the S&P 500 is now down slightly this year. The Dow average is also lower in 2015.
Precious metals prices surged during the Great Recession, but in recent years many investors bought stocks instead, leading to a sustained slide in the prices of gold and silver.
Metals like copper and steel have been hurt by the sluggish global economy, and copper prices are down 23 percent this year. All three fell Thursday after the head of Europe’s central bank said new stimulus measures may be put in place next month.
Gold declined $3.90 to $1,081 an ounce and silver fell for the tenth consecutive day, losing 3.8 cents to $14.225 an ounce. It’s down 11 percent since late October. Copper fell 4.6 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $2.173 a pound. Copper prices have tumbled 23 percent this year.
Mining and metals companies retreated. Freeport-McMoRan dropped 54 cents, or 5.8 percent, to $8.77. Its stock has skidded 69 percent over the past year. Steel maker Nucor fell $1.11, or 2.7 percent, to $40.11. Nucor has lost a quarter of its value in the past year.
The price of oil slid for the sixth time in seven days and hit its lowest price since late August after the U.S. government said crude stockpiles grew by 4.2 million barrels last week. A private report released Wednesday had showed an even larger increase, but the markets showed no signs of relief.
U.S. benchmark crude fell $1.18, or 2.7 percent, to $41.75 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost $1.75, or 3.8 percent, to $44.06 a barrel in London. Heating oil fell 4.1 cents to $1.407 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline shed 5.6 cents to $1.273 a gallon. Natural gas dipped 0.3 cents to $2.26 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Kohl’s climbed $2.63, or 6.1 percent, to $45.79 after the retailer said strong sales in the back-to-school season and in late October boosted its results in the third quarter.
Kohl’s and other retailers tumbled Wednesday after a disappointing report from Macy’s. Kohl’s more than made up its losses, while competitors made partial recoveries.
Angie’s List, which lets users research, shop for and rate home services, advanced $1.05, or 13.3 percent, to $8.97 after it received a buyout offer from IAC/InteractiveCorp, which owns About.com and HomeAdvisor.com. Its offer values Angie’s List at $512 million, or $8.75 a share. The gains suggest investors are hoping for an improved offer.
U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.31 percent. The euro inched up to $1.0821 from $1.0776. The yen slipped to $122.57 from 122.89.