Dow Down 251 Points; Lowest Close Since '97

Thirteen AdMarket Stocks Hit 52-Week Lows

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LOS ANGELES ( -- The Dow today sank to its lowest close since May 1997, blowing past the last downturn's market lows.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 7,115, down 251 points or 3.4%, sinking the index below the last bear market's 2002 floor to the lowest point seen since the Clinton administration.

The Dow is down 49.9% from its October 2007 peak.

Lowest level in AdMarket 50 history
The Ad Age/Bloomberg AdMarket 50 fell 3.2% to its lowest level since Advertising Age launched the index of key marketer, media and agency stocks in May 2000.

The Standard & Poor's 500, a broader blue-chip index than the 30-stock Dow index, fell 3.5% to its lowest close since April 1997.

The bear market had been driven by an implosion in financial and automotive stocks. But market troubles now have spread far and wide, a worrisome sign.

Indeed, 27 of the Dow 30 stocks fell today. The exceptions were three stocks that cratered last week: Bank of America Corp., Citigroup and General Motors Corp.

Citi stock up
Citi jumped 9.7%; The Wall Street Journal reported today that the federal government may take an equity stake in the troubled bank -- conceivably bad news for common-stock holders, whose equity could be diluted, but positive news for those same investors from the standpoint that at least they could retain some equity stake in a rescued bank.

Thirteen of the AdMarket 50 stocks slumped to 52-week -- and in many cases multiyear -- lows. That included nine of the index's 26 marketers.

Package-goods makers, normally a comparatively stable lot during market downturns, were among the casualties. Procter & Gamble Co. fell 2.7% to $48.90, its lowest close since 2003. Kraft Foods slipped 2.3% to $22.96, its lowest close since the company went public in 2001 at $31 a share.

Among blue-chip media stocks, Walt Disney Co. declined 3.2% to $16.97, its lowest close since 2003.

General Electric Co., largely a financial-services company but also 80% owner of NBC Universal, slumped 5.7% to $8.85, its lowest close since 1993.

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