By STEVE ROTHWELL
As evidence of a slowing global economy grows, investors are showing some caution just one week after U.S. stocks hit an all-time high.
Stocks fell after lackluster earnings from Bank of America and an apparent drop in demand for Apple’s iPod and iPhone dragged financial and technology stocks lower. New signs of weakness in Europe, where car sales are plunging and unemployment is rising, also weighed on the market.
On Monday, stocks sank after China reported economic growth that was slower than economists had expected. Metals, energy and other commodities have been hit hard this week and that has dragged down the stocks of miners and drillers and companies that provide services to them. Gold fell the most in 30 years.
The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 138 points, or 0.9 percent, to 14,618.59 Wednesday, wiping out most of the gain it made Tuesday. The Dow, which reached an all-time high of 14,865 last Thursday, is down 1.7 percent this week after slumping 265 points on Monday.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 22 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,553 and is 2.2 percent lower since the opening bell on Monday. The S&P is 2.5 percent below its all-time high of 1,593.
Energy companies and miners fell as commodity prices extended their declines.
The price of crude oil dropped for the fourth day in five, falling 2.3 percent to $86.68 per barrel, based on expectations that global demand will fall. Copper fell to an 18-month low of $3.19 a pound.
As stock prices sank, investors sought the safety of bonds. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, fell to 1.70 percent from 1.73 percent. It went as low as 1.68 percent, matching its lowest level of the year.
Despite the big drops this week, the Dow is still 11.6 percent higher this year, the S&P 500 index 8.8 percent. And while falling energy prices may hurt energy stocks now, in the long run they should put more money into the pockets of consumers and drive spending.