Dow Plunges 313 as U.S. Economy Nears a Cliff

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) spiraled to its lowest point since Aug. 2, suffering one of its biggest percentage drops this year. "The big election is in the books, but the dreaded 'fiscal cliff' is getting closer every day, and we still have to deal with Europe," said Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell. "Participants started selling early and often, as basic materials and financial stocks took the brunt of the damage. There is now a lot of uncertainty about whether Congress and President Obama can come to an agreement on revenue and spending cuts, and this caused a lot of investors to unload their positions."

Chart of the Day : Schaeffer's Senior Options Strategist Tony Venosa, CMT, suggests that put open interest could translate into technical support for the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSEARCA:SPY) .

Daily Game Plan : Schaeffer's Senior Trading Analyst Bryan Sapp is watching the VIX's 25 level as a warning sign for stocks through the remainder of the year.

And now, a look at the numbers...

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

The end to the campaign season's uncertainty was met with a furious round of selling, sending the Dow as much as 369 points lower at one point. The index pared some of its losses -- ever-so-slightly -- but still wrapped with a loss of roughly 2.4% after a surge of selling into the closing bell. It was the blue-chip index's first close below 13,000 since Aug. 2. The stock also finished south of its 200-day moving average for the first time since June 6. It's interesting to note that on the Wednesday after the 2008 presidential election, however, the Dow surrendered 5.1%.

The bleeding was heavy for the S&P 500 Index (SPX) as well, which danced around potential support at the 1,400 level before ultimately closing slightly below it to finish about 2.4% lower on the day. Elsewhere, tech stocks were not spared, as the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) gave back about 2.5%.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) reached as much as 10.3% higher on the day and closed up more than 8%, peeking just above the $19 mark in the final minutes of trading. While the index is now back above its 200-day moving average, it hasn't closed north of the $20 level since July 24.

More of today's big stories :

And, in case you missed it ... Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick studied Wall Street's bearish reaction to the election , and suggested what stocks might see in the days ahead.

For today's activity in commodities, options, and more, head to page 2.

Commodities markets :

Oil futures took a considerable slide today, thanks to a bigger-than-expected rise in domestic stockpiles and lagging demand. By the close, crude for December delivery was knocked lower by $4.27, or 4.8%, to land at $84.44 a barrel. This marked the lowest price for the commodity since July 10.

Despite Tuesday's near 2% rise, gold futures were little moved today. Speculators appeared optimistic following last night's election results, but anxiety crept in throughout the day, as concerns about the global economy and the U.S. "fiscal cliff" took center stage. Although the dollar strengthened against the euro, December-dated gold slipped $1, or less than 0.1%, to settle at $1,714 an ounce.

Levels to watch in trading...

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 12,932.73) - support at 11,500; resistance at 14,000
  • S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,394.53) - support at 1,100; resistance at 1,500
  • Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 2,937.29) - support at 2,400; resistance at 3,400

STOCKS - MOVERS

STOCKS - EARNINGS

STOCKS - NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITY

STOCKS - NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

SCHAEFFER'S MARKET POSTURE

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: AIG , F , GRPN , INTC , NVDA

Schaeffer's Investment Research

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