The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points Thursday, its biggest decline in six weeks.
The pullback came as investors reacted to discouraging economic reports from China and intensifying tensions in Ukraine.
It was the fourth loss in a row for the Dow. The plunge was a sharp contrast to the relatively quiet trading earlier in the week following a record-setting run last week.
Stocks started the day trading slightly higher following news of a pickup in U.S. retail sales last month, but the gains didn’t last.
The data out of China has been weak. The retail sector in America seems to be a total disaster. It’s enough, combined with what’s going on in Ukraine, to get people a little bit nervous and sell, said Ian Winer, director of trading at Wedbush Securities.
The Dow Jones industrial average slid 231.19 points, or 1.4 percent, to 16,108.89. The S&P 500 index fell 21.86 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 1,846.34. The Nasdaq composite dropped 62.91 points, or 1.5 percent, to 4,260.42.
The last time the market had a bigger decline was Feb. 3, when the Dow sank 326 points, or 2.1 percent.
Thursday’s slide erased the S&P 500 index’s gains for the year and extended the Dow’s year-to-date loss to 2.8 percent. The Nasdaq is still up 2 percent this year.
Stocks that fell outnumbered those that rose by a ratio of more than 2-to-1.