The Fed's Federal Open Markets Committee made an unscheduled, though expected, 0.5% interest rate cut before the markets opened in an attempt to head off panic selling, but in late-day trading, the Dow closed down 679 points in very heavy trading at 8920.70, its lowest point in almost three years.
Agency and media companies were hard hit on fears that the economic effects of last Tuesday's terror attack and possible U.S. military retaliation could push the country into a recession.
Several agency stocks hit new 52-week lows, including Interpublic Group of Cos. ($23.05, down 8.17%) and Omnicom Group ($67.01, down 8.88%), and the America Depository Receipt Shares of WPP Group ($41.94, down 11.72%), Havas Advertising ($6.08, down 20.31%), Publicis Groupe ($17.50, down 17.45%) and Cordiant Communications Group ($9.20, down 19.30%). Grey Global Group, which has been rumored to be an acquisition target, was relatively unscathed, down 4.53% at $600.50, the only major agency company to trade over its low.
Other media companies were also hard hit, particularly owners of the major networks. Viacom Corp., parent of CBS, was down 12.93% at $33, Walt Disney Co., ABC's parent, was down 18.26% at $19.25, and General Electric, parent of NBC was down 10.85% at $35.08. AOL Time Warner hit a 52-week low at $30, down 12.82%.