Wall Street indexes extended their decline on Thursday as volatility spiked and investors shunned risky investments, and Nasdaq looked like it could confirm a correction.
By late afternoon the S&P was down another 2 per cent after shedding 3 per cent in the previous day's session and Nasdaq was down as much as 10.3 per cent from its closing record high, reached on Aug. 29. If it closes at these levels, this would confirm a correction.
At its session low, the S&P fell 2.7 per cent to its lowest level since early July.
The CBOE Volatility Index thrust to its highest level since mid-February.
The technology sector, the biggest loser in Wednesday's sell-off, was down 1.4 per cent on Thursday.
Before the market open, data showing a smaller-than-anticipated rise in consumer prices eased some fears of increasing inflation pressures.
"There are still short-term negatives that will continue to put pressure on the market. We got relief on one of those negatives today with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) number, which suggests the Fed will be less aggressive than the market was concerned it will be," said Robert Phipps, a director at Per Stirling Capital Management in Austin, Texas.
The data helped push U.S. Treasury yields to a one-week low, further soothing equity investors.
But investors still faced a sea of worries, including uncertainty over a U.S.-China trade war and U.S. mid-term elections on Nov. 6, on top of hawkish comments last week from U.S. Federal Reserve officials, according to Phipps who said he expected the equity market to fall further before advancing.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 521.91 points, or 2.04 per cent, to 25,076.83, the S&P 500 lost 56.76 points, or 2.04 per cent, to 2,728.92 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 99.86 points, or 1.35 per cent, to 7,322.19.
The S&P's 11 major sectors were all in the red by late afternoon. The energy was the biggest loser with a 2.4 per cent drop as oil prices hit two-week lows after an industry report showed U.S. crude inventories rose more than expected.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 3.51-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.50-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
(With inputs from agencies.)