NEW YORK -Three months after it looked like the stock market had hit rock bottom, the Dow Jones industrial average slumped yesterday to a six-year low.
The Dow skidded 89.68 points, or 1.2 percent, to 7,465.95 - sagging below its 7,552.29 mark during the market sell-off in November 2008 and raising worries that share prices overall are poised for another steep fall.
The world's best-known market barometer has fallen 15 percent in the seven weeks since New Year's Day and is at its lowest since October 2002.
At a minimum, the drop indicates that a long-awaited market rebound will take longer to develop, and is a disappointment to investors who had hoped that the worst losses in their retirement and college-savings accounts were over.
"It doesn't mean that we're going to see a huge downward movement and fall to 6,000," said Bob Sweet, managing editor of Dow Theory Forecasts, a newsletter in Hammond, Ind. "What it does mean is that the market has not, as many people had hoped, laid a bottom, and that we're going to have to start over the process of looking for a recovery."
The most immediate likelihood, experts said, is that the Dow would retest its October 2002 low of 7,286.27, to which it fell during the depth of the post-Internet-bubble bear market. That would mark a further 2.4 percent drop from yesterday's close.
The Dow's woes also raised fears that the Standard & Poor's 500 Index could be the next major index to plumb its November low - a more worrisome development because the fate of the broader S&P; carries far more weight with Wall Street professionals.
The S&P; 500 gave up 9.48 points, or 1.2 percent, to 778.94. It is 3.5 percent above its Nov. 20 low.
The Nasdaq composite index slumped 25.15 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,442.82. It is 9.6 percent above its November trough.