Stocks limped to the finish of a brutal week on Wall Street, with the Dow touching bear territory and the broader market continuing to be battered by a double dose of surging oil and a fresh round of banking troubles.
The bluechip index Dow briefly fell more than 20 percent from its October high, the benchmark for a bear market, before getting a mild bounce that saw it still remain lower. The Dow fell to 11,348.96, off just less than 1 percent, while the Nasdaq finished lower at 2315.63 or 0.25 percent and the S&P was at 1278.49, down 0.34 percent.
The other two major indexes, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, both teetered near bear territory as well as U.S. crude oil hit a new record before backing up and closing above $140 a barrel. A mild, late uptick kept the indexes out of official bear territory.
For the week, the Dow was off about 4 percent, the Nasdaq down 5 percent and the S&P dropped 3.4 percent.
Financial stocks, particularly large investment banks and brokerages, did the most damage. A late surge in volume from the Russell 3000 rebalancing did little to help markets.
Stocks briefly hit their intraday low after Moody's Investor's Service said it may cut Morgan Stanley's credit rating. Morgan Stanley declined comment on the move and the stock actually moved up shortly after.
The troubles with credit were garnerning more attention than the indexes moving into new technical ground.
"That's really what's pulling this market down, not the fact that we've come to a near bear market correction," said Michael Kresh, president of M.D. Kresh Financial Services in Islandia, N.Y.
Merrill Lynch dropped after sources inside the firm told CNBC that writedowns will likely be between $3 billion and $5 billion.
Earlier, Lehman Brothers had estimated that Merrill would write down as much as $5.4 billion and lowered its price target on Merrill stock.