Investors pulled out of stocks with vengeance during afternoon trading Thursday, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average down nearly 1,000 points, or 9%, before the market recovered to close down 351, or 3.23%, at 10,517.15.
Stocks swung down wildly shortly after 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, posting the fastest drop since the stock market crash of 1987 and exceeding the record drop at closing of 7% of Sept. 29, 2008. As this story was being prepared, market officials were looking into whether computerized "flash" trading or a trading glitch caused by human error exacerbated a sell off triggered by an increasingly bleak view that not only Greece, but much of Europe may be headed for a credit crisis similar to that which gripped the global markets upon the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008.
Several of the builder stocks were briefly showing double-digit percentage declines before paring losses. The biggest drop came at Avatar (NASDAQ:AVTR, which lost 9.64% to $21.37. Hovnanian (NYSE:HOV) dropped 8.7% to $6.41; Ryland (NYSE:RYL) lost 7.09%; M/I (NYSE:MHO) declined 6.66% to $13.59; Beazer (NYSE:BZH) fell 6.25% to $5.25; PulteGroup (NYSE:PHM) dropped 5.4% to $11.91; Standard Pacific (NYSE:SPF) fell 4.92% to $5.80; M.D.C. lost 4.68% to $34.43; KB Home (NYSE:KBH) dropped 4.51% to $17.36; and Lennar lost 4.45% to $18.45.
Among the rest of the group, D.R. Horton (NYSE;DHI) was down 3.47% to $13.65; NVR (NYSE:NVR) lost 2.41% to $688.50; Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) dropped 2.36% to $21.50; Meritage (NYSE:MTH) lost 1.52% to $21.99; and Brookfield (NYSE:BHS) fell 1.43% to $10.35.
Comstock (NASDAQ:CHCI), the lone stock among the group trading under the investment-grade threshold of $5, lost 6.33% to $2.37.