Stocks closed out the final trading day of October with a thud, finishing near session lows amid renewed concerns over the European debt crisis, but logged some record gains for the month.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 276.10 points, or 2.26 percent, to finish at 11,955.01, led by Bank of America and Alcoa.
The S&P 500 tumbled 31.79 points, or 2.47 percent, to end at 1,253.30. And the Nasdaq fell 52.74 points, or 1.93 percent to close at 2,684.41. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, jumped near 30.
All key S&P sectors finished heavily in the red, led by materials and energy.
Despite today's weak session, the major averages posted some impressive gains for the month. The Dowis posted its best monthly point gain on record and its best monthly percentage gain since October 2002. The S&P 500 logged its best monthly gain since December 1991, while the Nasdaq posted its best month since last September.
“November from a historical standpoint is not a bad time to put money to work in the market…we tend to rally into the end of the year,” said Tom Schrader, managing director for U.S. Equity Trading at Stifel Nicolaus. “Today, we’re down on Chinese concerns on how they might not participate [in helping the EU] so you’ve got to pay attention to that.”
China's President Hu Jintao said he believes Europe has the ability to overcome its economic problems and gave no indication whether Beijing could play a rolein helping solve the euro zone's debt crisis.