U.S. stocks are slumping in midday trading Thursday on further evidence that global growth is slowing. Industrial stocks led the declines after Caterpillar cuts its revenue forecast, blaming a downturn in the mining industry.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 19 points, or 1 percent, to 1,919 as of 12:04 p.m. Thursday on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 184 points, or 1.1 percent, to 16,095. The Nasdaq composite fell 61 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,691.
FED WATCH: Investors will closely follow a speech on inflation and monetary policy later Thursday by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Markets are looking for clues on the timing of the Fed's first interest-rate hike in nearly a decade after it held off raising rates earlier this month. The Fed has rate-setting meetings in October and December.
THE QUOTE: The Fed kept its benchmark interest rate on hold at close to zero, despite an improving job market and a steady economy. That decision unsettled some investors, because it suggests that the central bank is not confident about the outlook for growth.
"The fear factor was introduced by the Fed last week when they didn't raise rates," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Capital. "We're in a very jittery market that's not likely to reverse course until we get some clear indications from the Fed."
CHALLENGING TIMES: Caterpillar fell $4.80, or 6.7 percent, to $65.41 after cutting its 2015 revenue forecast by $1 billion to about $48 billion, and saying sales would fall a further 5 percent next year. The company also said it may cut as many as 10,000 jobs between now and 2018. The maker of mining and construction equipment is suffering as a global slump in commodity prices is hurting mining companies.
GLOBAL CUTS: While the Fed is considering raising interest rates, other central banks are lowering interest rates. Norway's central bank cut its key interest rate to 0.75 percent, the lowest level it's ever been, and hinted that it could reduce the rate further. Taiwan's central bank also lowered its benchmark rate to 1.75 percent, the first cut since 2009, according to reports.
EUROPE'S DAY: Germany's DAX fell 1.9 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 1.2 percent and France's CAC 40 1.9 percent.
AUTO SHARES: Automakers fell in the wake of Volkswagen's emissions scandal. After early gains, Volkswagen shares were down 1 percent. Fellow German carmaker BMW fell 5.2 percent after a report said one of its models had failed a test in Europe.
France's Renault was down 2.8 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 36 cents to $44.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.10 percent from 2.15 percent a day earlier. The dollar slipped to 119.72 yen. The euro ticked higher to $1.1245.