NEW YORK — The U.S. stock market endured its worst performance in 18 months Thursday, driven lower by another slump in Chinese shares and heavy selling by technical traders.
The global rout started in China, where sharp declines in energy and property stocks pushed the Shanghai Composite down more than 3 percent. That selling soon spread to European and U.S. markets.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 358.04 points, or 2.1 percent, to 16,990.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 43.88 points, or 2.1 percent, to 2,035.73, and the Nasdaq composite lost 141.56 points, or 2.8 percent, to 4,877.49.
As the selling picked up Thursday, investors moved money to traditional havens in times of uncertainty.
Gold rose $24.90, or 2.2 percent, to $1,153.00 an ounce, the metal's best day since April. Demand for ultrasafe U.S. government bonds rose, pulling down the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note to 2.07 percent from 2.13 late Wednesday.
Worries over China, the world's second-largest economy, spurred Thursday's losses. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 3.4 percent. Chinese shares have had a wild ride this week and that has raised questions about Beijing's ability to stabilize the market and the devaluation of that nation's currency.