Investors around the world fled stocks and piled into havens Thursday as a cautious tone from the Federal Reserve, a resumption of the slide in bank shares and a fresh fall in oil prices fueled anxiety about the global economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 250 points, or 1.6%, to 15665 shortly after the open. The S&P 500 dropped 1.5%, and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 1.3%.
As investors sought safety, U.S. government bonds, the yen and gold surged. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 1.588% from 1.706% on Wednesday. The record closing low is 1.404% in July 2012. Gold futures gained 3.6% to $1237.90 an ounce, and the dollar fell 0.7% against the yen to ¥112.60.
U.S. crude oil declined 2.2% to $26.84.
The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 2.9%. Banking and mining shares dropped, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 index was on track for its lowest close since 2012. Investors also shed stocks in Asia.
U.S. stock-futures trading volumes were high but haven’t yet surged to levels hit last summer. “We just haven’t seen the panic…’get me out at any price’ trading,” said John Brady, managing director at futures brokerage RJ O’Brien. “That says to us that we have further to go.”
Investors were nervous after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen on Wednesday highlighted risks to growth and inflation, but delivered a less dovish tone on interest rates than many investors had hoped for. Ultralow interest rates boosted asset prices for several years.