Dow plunges 375 points to begin the new year

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It may be a new year, but the same fears are roiling markets.

The Dow started 2019 a 375-point slide Wednesday. The S&P 500 dropped 1.3%, while the Nasdaq futures tumbled more than 1.7%.

Tech stocks like Microsoft (MSFT), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Apple (AAPL) were all under significant pressure. Tesla (TSLA) fell 8% after cutting prices of its vehicles by $2,000.

The selling started overseas, with Asian and European markets careening lower following the release of another weak economic report out of China. New data revealed that China’s manufacturing sector contracted in December, an unsettling development for the world’s second-largest economy. It is this second time this week that data has indicated China’s huge manufacturing sector is shrinking.

“It is looking increasingly likely that the Chinese economy may come under greater downward pressure,” said Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at research firm CEBM Group, in a statement.

The ugly factory data only reinforces the economic slowdown fears at the heart of the Wall Street meltdown.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed 2.8% lower. The Shanghai Composite fell 1.2% and Australia’s ASX dropped 1.6%. Japan’s markets were closed for a public holiday.

In Europe, the UK’s FTSE was down 1%, while France’s CAC slipped 1.3% and Germany’s DAX traded flat.

Global growth fears continue to rock commodities. US oil prices dropped another 1% to $45 a barrel on Wednesday. Copper edged 0.3% lower.

Despite a wild rebound during the last few days of the year, 2018 was the worst year for US stocks since the 2008 financial crisis. The S&P 500 nearly plunged into a bear market last week.

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