Dow industrials sink 831 points as tech stocks plunge

Stocks have slumped over the last week as a combination of strong economic data and positive commentary from Federal Reserve leaders sent bond yields rocketing higher as investors bet that interest rates will keep rising.

The tech sector was hit hardest, with Netflix down almost 7 per cent, Amazon down 5 per cent and Apple, Google and Facebook all down more than 3 per cent.

The 10-year yield is now 3.20 percent, the highest in than seven years and up sharply form 2.82 percent in late August. There have recently been several indications that the US housing market has cooled, likely in part due to higher rates on mortgages.

SEARED: Sears Holdings nosedived after the Wall Street Journal reported that the struggling retailer hired an advisory firm to prepare a bankruptcy filing that could come within days.

The small-cap Russell 2000 index, less sensitive than its larger peers to global worries such as trade and yields, was down 1 per cent at 1,605.60 points, below its 200-day moving average.

The local decline comes after the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 600 points in afternoon trading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 738 points, or 2.8 percent, to 25,686.

It came after Wall Street stocks plunged Wednesday, with major indices losing more than three per cent in a sell-off prompted by the sudden jump in USA interest rates and increasing trade worries.

Microsoft lost 1.4 per cent in early trading Wednesday and 3M gave up 1.6 per cent.

Stock in all 30 blue-chip index companies fell, with Boeing and Caterpillar dropping at least 3.8 per cent.

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Benchmark US crude oil fell 2.4 per cent to US$73.17 a barrel in NY.

Technology and internet-based companies are known for their high profit margins, and many have reported explosive growth in recent years, with corresponding gains in their stock prices.

Technology shares tumbled on fears of slowing demand, while bond yields ended lower after seeing multi-year highs earlier this week. Heating oil fell 1.2 per cent to $2.39 a gallon.

"A sustained rise in rates is probably reflective of improving economic conditions, so that in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing for stocks", said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird in Milwaukee. Jeweler Tiffany, handbag makers Michael Kors and Tapestry tumbled between 5.8 per cent and 8 percent. Amazon skidded 4.8 per cent to $1,781.21 (U.S.).

The Dow was down 482 points, or 1.8 percent, to 25,950.

Gold was flat at $1,191.50 per ounce.

Investors may want to shift out of momentum and into more defensive stocks - companies that aren't as expensive and also pay healthy, stable dividends. The Nasdaq fell 177 points, or 2.3 percent, to 7,560. "As stocks go down, tech goes down more than the stock market". Brazil's Bovespa lost 2.5 per cent and the Merval in Argentina sank 2.2 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.2 per cent, South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.1 per cent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.1 per cent.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.53 percent versus the greenback at 112.36. The euro rose to $1.511 from $1.1496 late Tuesday, and the British pound rose to $1.3175 from $1.3146.

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