Increasing worries about China's economy and rising tensions over Ukraine rattled the stock market Thursday.
Investors sold stocks and shifted to safer assets like bonds. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points, and Treasury prices rose.
It was the worst day for the market in six weeks and the fourth loss in a row for the Dow. The plunge was a sharp contrast to the relatively quiet trading Monday through Wednesday, following a record-setting run last week.
"The data out of China has been weak. The retail sector in America seems to be a total disaster. It's enough, combined with what's going on in Ukraine, to get people a little bit nervous and sell," said Ian Winer, director of trading at Wedbush Securities.
The Dow slid 231.19 points to 16,108.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.17 percent to close at 1,846.34. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.46 percent to 4,260.42.
The last time the market had a bigger decline was Feb. 3, when the Dow sank 326 points.
Thursday's slide erased the S&P's gains for the year and extended the Dow's year-to-date loss to 2.8 percent. The Nasdaq is still up 2 percent so far this year. -- AP