The Dow Posts Its Worst Day in 2012

Investors just can't catch a break. A day after closing the books on the worst month for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) since 2010, global stock markets laid another egg today. The Dow shed 274 points, or 2.2%, as signs of slowing global growth flared on several continents, pushing the Dow officially into negative territory on the year. Today's precipitous drop also marked the Dow's greatest single decline so far this year. Look how far the index has fallen since the start of May. Whammy.

Source: Google Finance.

The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) and Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXID  ) both tanked as well, shedding 2.5% and 2.8%, respectively. Volatility was about the only thing to rise today, not that it's much consolation to investors. The market's "fear gauge," or the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX  ) , shot 10.8% higher amid increased anxiety on the part of investors.  The VIX has risen almost 50% since the start of May.

Giving the steady stream of dismal news coming from Europe a break, the culprit today originated on U.S. soil, with a brutal May jobs report in the U.S. sparking today's sell-off. Last month, the U.S. economy added a paltry 69,000 jobs, well below the consensus expectation of 155,000. Rubbing salt in the wound, both March and April's jobs figures were revised downward as well. This pits investors against a threefold threat of an accelerating European debt crisis, slowing growth in China, and an increasingly tepid recovery in the United States.

One silver lining is that it's an election year, and politics aside, this could certainly hold some implications for U.S. markets. The federal government, or the Federal Reserve, could step in to support the economy. If that scenario becomes a reality, it could completely change the direction in the market. To highlight several stocks that could be the best way to play this potential game-changer, the Fool recently issued a research report discussing stocks primed to take off after the election this year, which you can grab today grab today.

Andrew Tonner held no position in any of the companies or indexes mentioned in this article. You can follow Andrew and all his commentary on Twitter at @AndrewTonner. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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