Anxious investors sent stocks plunging Thursday as surging commodities prices fed fears that the Federal Reserve would extend its two-year streak of interest rate hikes. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 141 points.


The sharp decline reflected Wall Street's deep disappointment with the Federal Reserve's statement on Wednesday that more rate tightening could be needed to counter inflationary pressures from energy and metals. Investors were hoping for signals that rates have been raised enough to keep inflation in check.


According to preliminary calculations, the Dow plunged 141.92, or 1.22 percent, to 11,500.73, its biggest single-day drop since January. On Wednesday, the Dow came within 75 points of its best-ever close of 11,722.98, reached on Jan. 14, 2000.The Standard & Poor's 500 index slid 16.93, or 1.28 percent, to 1,305.92, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 48.04, or 2.07 percent, to 2,272.70.


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