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Stocks Plunge: Dow down 265; Apple Sinks 3.8%

The stock market suffered its worst slide in nearly two months Thursday as the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average ended down nearly 265 points and Apple spearheaded a sharp drop in technology stocks.

In what is shaping up as Wall Street’s fourth consecutive day of triple-digit moves, the Dow closed down 264.26 points, 1.5%, to end below 17,000 at 16,945.80. Throughout most of the day, all 30 stocks in the average traded lower.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 32.31 points, 1.6%, to finish at 1965.99. And the worst losses of the day were in the tech-packed Nasdaq composite, which ended down 88.47 points, 1.9%, to 4466.75.

Nasdaq’s losses were driven by a 3.8% decline in Apple shares, which finished the trading session a tad below $98.

Although the Dow gained 154 points Wednesday, all of its other tripe-digit moves have been on the downside since it set a new closing high on Friday — the same day the biggest-ever initial public offering, Alibaba Group, debuted on the New York Stock Exchange. Both the Nasdaq and the S&P were down for the fourth day of the past five sessions.

Thursday’s drop was blamed on increasing concerns about the global economy and a growing backlash against problems consumers are reporting with Apple’s latest software updates and its new product launches, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The rising volatility on Wall Street is causing concern after the stock market enjoyed a long run of relatively uneventful trading earlier in September. A measure of volatility known as the “fear gauge” jumped 25% on Thursday.

Analysts are worried the buildup of complacency among investors and the approach of what could be a disappointing third-quarter earnings season could mean more trouble in the weeks ahead.

Still, damage is relatively minor, given that the Dow and S&P are both down roughly 2% from the record highs they set last week.

Fixed-income investments appeared to benefit from the flight out of stocks. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.51% from 2.57% Wednesday as investors sought the relative safe haven of U.S. Treasuries.

In economic news, durable goods orders plunged 18.2% in August, thanks to a sharp drop in aircraft orders. Orders for durable goods excluding the volatile transportation category rose 0.7%.

Applications for unemployment benefits rose 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 293,000 last week. Despite the rise, applications remain near pre-recession levels.

Asian markets were mixed as Japan’s Nikkei index jumped 0.3% to 16,734.14 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.6% to 23,768.13.

European markets were trading lower and losses accelerated after Wall Street’s decline: Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 1% and Germany’s DAX fell 1.6%.

Stocks rallied Wednesday as the Dow ended up more than 150 points and the S&P 500 broke a three-day losing streak.

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