Stocks Plunge Most Since 1987 Before Recovering

The U.S. stock market had its biggest intraday decline since the crash of 1987 on Thursday, then pared its losses sharply by the close.

At its low, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 998.5 points, or 9.2 percent, before recovering to close down 347.8 points, or 3.2 percent, to 10,520.32. The S&P 500 fell 7 percent in 15 minutes before rallying 7 percent in 20 minutes.

European credit troubles that began in Greece and threaten to spread to Spain and Portugal were believed to be behind the steep losses, although some reports blamed possible trading errors in shares of Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), which was down 37 percent at one point, and S&P futures.

Accenture (NYSE: ACN) was one of several stocks that traded near zero at one point, then recovered to close down 2.6 percent to $41.09. HP (NYSE: HPQ) traded in a 20 percent range on the day, ending down 5 percent to $48.33.

One possible cause of the steep drop in some stocks might have occurred during brief “circuit breaker” halts in trading on the NYSE, when the halted stocks continued to trade electronically elsewhere and were vulnerable to big moves on small volume.

Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) gained 1.7 percent on a better than expected earnings report, while JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ: JDSU) was down 20 percent after missing sales estimates.

Friday will see the government’s monthly jobs report, and traders are looking for a gain of 187,000 jobs, according to

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) will report its quarterly results next week, and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), HP, NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP), Applied Materials (NASDAQ: AMAT) and Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) will also report earnings this month.

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