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Stock markets are plummeting with the Dow Jones Industrial Average going into free fall at mid-afternoon, falling hundreds of points in a matter of minutes. The key bench market dipped almost 1,000 points before bouncing back several hundred points.

Stalwarts including General Electric, Boeing, Caterpillar and 3M have shed between 9 per cent and 10 per cent of their valuations in less than a day of trading.

It is the biggest drop in the valuation of the Dow Jones since the crash of October, 1987. A wave of panic selling swept over the markets as investors' fears about Europe's ability to manage its sovereign debt worsened.

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The broader S&P 500 is off 4 per cent, with Office Depot, Dow Chemical and Eastman Kodak each off at least 10 per cent.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX is off less than 2 per cent, with materials leading the decline and gold issues posting some gains.

The price of oil is also falling today on fears of economic weakness, with a barrel trading down $3.47 at $76.50.



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