U.S. stocks plunged more than 3.5 percent on Monday, closing off session lows in high volume trade as fears of slowing growth in China pressured global markets. ( Tweet This )
S&P 500 ended nearly 80 points lower, off session lows of about 104 points lower but still in correction territory after the tech sector failed intraday attempts to post gains. Nine of the 10 sectors are in correction territory, with consumer staples less than 1 percent away.
Programming note: Tune in to CNBC at 7 p.m., ET, for special live coverage of the market meltdown.
Cumulative trade volume was 13.94 billion shares, the highest volume day since Aug. 10, 2011. Composite trade volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 6.57 billion shares, the heaviest since Oct. 27, 2011.
"This is the proverbial markets hating uncertainty and you've got uncertainty in every driver—Fed, China, oil prices," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. "This is a market in pricing discovery in where prices should be."
"The market's going to be focused on China tonight to see if they come on tonight with something that would be considered a viable (way) to stimulate growth in that economy," she said.
The major averages had a volatile day of trade, plunging sharply in the open and more than halving losses to trade less than 1 percent lower on the day, before closing down more than 3.5 percent.
"I think we probably rallied too fast. A lot of people that covered their shorts got their shorts covered," said Peter Coleman, head trader at Convergex. He noted the Dow was still trading several hundred points off session lows and that a close better than 500 points lower would be a good sign.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended 588 points lower after trading in wide range of between roughly 300 to 700 points lower in the minutes leading up to the close.
Monday's rout extended recent slides in global stocks. The blue-chip index posted its biggest 3-day point loss in history of 1,477.45 points.
In the open, the index fell as much as 1,089 points, making Monday's move its biggest intraday swing in history. In midday trade, the index pared losses to trade about 110 points lower.
In the first 90 minutes alone, the index traveled more than 3,000 points in down and up moves. After 11:00 a.m., the index traveled more than 1,800 points, for a total of an approximately 4,900-point move in Monday's trading session.