An important psychological barrier gave way on Wall Street Thursday as the Dow Jones industrials fell to their lowest level in more than six years.
The Dow broke through a bottom reached in November, pulled down by sharp declines in key financial shares. It was the lowest ending for the Dow since Oct. 9, 2002, when the last bear market bottomed out.
The move below that level dashed hopes that the doldrums of November would mark the ending point of a long slump in the market, which is now nearly halfway below the peak levels reached in October 2007.
The market's inability to rally also signals that investors see no immediate end for the recession, which is already 14 months old and one of the most severe in decades. Investors also haven't been impressed with two major economic initiatives from the Obama administration this week, an economic stimulus package and a mortgage relief plan.