Stock market freefall continues

The U.S. stock market continued its October plunge today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing another 319 points.

The Dow, which fell to 15,996.18,  is now in negative territory for the year, as are the Standard & Poor 500 and the Nasdaq.

Analysts said the market has been rattled by concerns that a recession in Europe, slower economic growth in China and a strong U.S. dollar will reduce global demand for American products and services, as well as the continued violence in the Middle East and the spread of Ebola. Others say a correction was overdue after a few years of steady growth.

The largest local decliners this morning were Snap-on Inc. (down $2.16 to $112.54), Harley-Davidson Inc. (down $1.98 to $54.42), ManpowerGroup (down $1.77 to $58.13) and Johnson Controls Inc. (down $1.74 to $38.60).

Peter Morici, an economist and professer at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, advised investors not to panic.

“Disruptions in the global economy always seem to cause hysteria on Wall Street — even when the fundamentals under stocks are strong — and we might endure a 10 or 20 percent correction before equities rebound and move up further,” Morici said. “However, making a killing by selling now and buying at the bottom is a fool’s journey into poverty. I don’t know anyone who can time the market and neither does anyone reading this column. Unless an investor needs cash currently tied up in stocks for the next three years, it’s best to sit tight. Stocks remain the best investment around.”

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