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Stocks - Wall Street Plunges on Trade, Growth Worries

Investing.com - Stocks took a beating Thursday as investors worried that a U.S.-China trade war could drag on indefinitely and sap global growth.

The only good news was that the major indexes bounced off their lows in the last hour of trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.1%. The S&P 500 slumped 1.2% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.6%. At their lows, the Dow and S&P 500 had been off as much as 1.7% with the Nasdaq off 2.1%.

Stocks have succumbed to selling pressure in May after Washington and Beijing engaged in tit-for-tat tariffs and other retaliatory measures, with the S&P 500 on track to post its worst monthly decline since the December selloff.

Beijing said on Thursday Washington needs to correct its "wrong actions" for trade talks to continue after the United States blacklisted Huawei Technology last week.

In further evidence of the trade war hitting the U.S. economy, data from IHS Markit showed manufacturing growth measured its weakest pace of activity in nearly a decade and new orders fell for the first time since August 2009.

The Trump Administration outlined a $16-billion plan to help farmers offset the impact of the trade war on Thursday. Nonetheless, wheat prices, corn prices and soybean prices all fell.

The Dow was off as many as 448 points before bargain hunters started to buy across the market, cutting the day's losses to 286 points. The Dow finished the day looking at its fifth-straight weekly loss. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were looking at their third weekly losses in a row. The Dow is off 4.1% for May while the S&P is down 4.2% and the Nasdaq 5.77%. The Dow is is 5.4% below its 52-week high, reached in October. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are 4.6% and 6.7% below their 52-week highs, reached in April.

The selling was broad, with energy, industrial and technology shares taking the brunt of the selling pressure. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) were two of the bigger drags on the Dow, along with United Technologies (NYSE:UTX), Dow Inc (NYSE:DOW) and IBM (NYSE:IBM).

In addition, oil prices fell nearly 6% in response to weak demand questions and related issues. Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) each fell about 2.3%.

Interest rates fell and gold prices rose as many investors sought refuge from stocks. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.296%, the lowest closing yield in two years.

Gold, meanwhile, rose $11.20, or 0.9%, to $1,285.40 an ounce and is up 0.3% on the year.

Among the days highs and lows:

L Brands (NYSE:LB), Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) and Target (NYSE:TGT) were among the top performers in the S&P 500 on Thursday.

NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP), Hess (NYSE:HES) and Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN) were among the weakest performers.

-- Reuters contributed to this report.

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