Traders dumped high fliers and the broader stock market was slammed amid worries about the first profit decline in six years and more signs of nagging weakness in the U.S. economy.
Stocks fell sharply, as the VIX [ .VIX 15.44 +1.82 (+13.36%) ] jumped more than 13 percent. The Dow [ .DJI 17718.54 -292.60 (-1.62%) ] was off 292 points at 17,718 Wednesday, and the S&P 500 [ .INX 2061.05 -30.45 (-1.46%) ] fell nearly 1.5 percent to 2061. The Nasdaq [ .IXIC 4876.52 -118.21 (-2.37%) ], affected by selling in tech and biotech, lost 2.4 percent.
"It had a big run. It's only natural to see a correction," said Steve Massocca, Wedbush managing director. "We had excessive ebullience and some of that is burning off. I think that durable goods numbers weren't particularly good today. I think people are starting to get concerned that king dollar is going to cause earnings issues. A lot of companies are in their quiet periods so the stock buybacks are halted."
Stocks tanked in late morning but had been weaker early after a surprising decline in February's durable goods showed soft business spending for a sixth month. That was met by a slashing of growth forecasts for the first quarter. According to the CNBC/Moody's Analytics rapid update, economists now see first-quarter growth at 1.8 percent.