All of the simmering concerns that have been weighing on Wall Street for the past week or so exploded on Thursday. The potential for an escalation of tensions in Ukraine as Russia moves troops toward the border, combined with new worries about the pace of China's economic growth to send stocks plunging.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) tumbled 231 points (1.4 percent), the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) slid 22 points (1.2 percent), and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 63 points (1.5 percent). The Dow has now lost ground every session this week.
It was a broad-based sell off, with technology stocks, energy, financials and transports all ending the day lower. Many investors were putting their money into safer areas -– utility stocks and U.S. Treasuries.
Among the blue chips, Boeing (BA) fell 2 percent. It has lost altitude for five straight days, ever since the Malaysian Airlines 777 went missing Friday.
Pfizer (PFE) lost nearly 3 percent, after a ruling Wednesday invalidated its patent protection on the blockbuster painkiller Celebrex. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%And General Electric (GE) lost 1.5 percent on news that it plans to spin off its retail finance unit in an IPO.
Transportation stocks -- airlines, railroads, package delivery firms -- were all weak. Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Kansas City Southern (KSU) both lost 3 percent. And energy stocks fell. Tesoro (TSO) and Transocean (RIG) both lost about 3 percent.
Elsewhere, Herbalife (HLF) lost another 5 percent as the FTC investigates its business practices.
General Motors (GM) fell more than 2 percent. It now says it knew about the faulty ignition switches on some cars as far back as 2001.
And Dollar General (DG) fell 3 percent on a disappointing outlook.
There weren't many winners, but we did find a few good ones.
Williams-Sonoma (WSM) gained nearly 10 percent on strong sales at its Pottery Barn and West Elm divisions. Plug Power (PLUG) continued its wild ride, jumping 17 percent, as its loss narrowed. Take a look at the see-saw ride the fuel cell company has been over the past week. And Amazon.com (AMZN) edged higher after increasing the cost of its Prime subscription program by $20, to $90 a year. Analysts say that should generate a lot more revenue.
What to Watch Friday:
The Labor Department releases its Producer Price Index for February at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
The University of Michigan releases its initial survey of consumer sentiment for March at 10 a.m.
These major companies are scheduled to report quarterly financial statements:
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.