NEW YORK – Stocks plunged in the final hour of trading Thursday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average down 679 points – more than 7 percent – to its lowest level in five years after a major credit ratings agency said it might cut its rating on General Motors Corp.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index also fell more than 7 percent.
The declines came on the one-year anniversary of the closing highs of the Dow and the S&P. The Dow has lost 5,585 points, or 39.4 percent, since closing at 14,198 on Oct. 9, 2007. The S&P 500, meanwhile, is off 655 points, or 41.9 percent, since recording its high of 1,565.15.
U.S. stock market paper losses totaled $872 billion Thursday and the value of shares overall has tumbled a stunning $8.33 trillion since last year’s high. That’s based on preliminary figures measured by the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index, which tracks 5,000 U.S.-based companies’ stocks and represents almost all stocks traded in America.