Dow Jones Industrial Average Hits Six-Year Low

Financial Companies Take a Hit; Five AdMarket Media Stocks Reach 52-Week Lows

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- The Dow today slumped to its lowest close in more than six years, marking a new low in an unrelenting bear market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 7,466, down 90 points or 1.2%, slipping below its November 2008 lows to its weakest close since October 2002. The Dow now is 47% below its October 2007 all-time high.

The Dow late today briefly hit a bottom of 7,448, two points below the bear market's previous intraday low, hit on Nov. 21.

The Dow was hammered by weakness in financial stocks, with embattled Citigroup and Bank of America taking double-digit declines.

Reflecting worries
The market's troubles reflect investor worries about the economy and financial markets even after President Barack Obama this week signed the unprecedented $787 billion stimulus bill and announced a $275 billion plan to address the crisis in the housing market.

The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000, a far broader stock index, today fell 1.2% but remains well above its November bear-market low. The Standard & Poor's 500 and Ad Age/Bloomberg AdMarket 50 fell 1.2% and 0.7%, respectively, but also remain above their November lows.

Weakness in certain AdMarket stocks should give ad watchers pause. Click here to see current AdMarket prices.

Package goods also take dive
Five of the AdMarket's 19 media stocks hit 52-week -- and, in some cases, multiyear -- lows: Walt Disney Co., parent of ABC; newspaper publishers Gannett Co., the New York Times Co. and McClatchy Co.; and outdoor-ad firm Lamar Advertising. (General Electric Co., largely a financial stock but also owner of NBC Universal, also hit a low.)

More unsettling, though, may be the major advertisers that fell to 52-week lows today or earlier this week. That list includes package-goods powerhouses Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever, Kraft Foods and Kellogg Co. -- sellers of consumer staples that in theory hold up relatively well during rough times (people still have to eat and brush their teeth).

Investors can take comfort that at least the market isn't in free-fall, in contrast to the gyrating trading days seen last fall. In fact, 15 of the AdMarket 50 stocks ended trading flat or up for the day.

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