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Dow tumbles 318 points in worst week since 2012

Posted at 2:39 PM, Jan 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-24 16:09:03-05

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — It’s another ugly day on Wall Street — and for markets around the globe.

Dow’s 310-point Friday loss caps worst week in more than a year, as earnings and overseas concerns jar investors, despite a jump in shares of Microsoft following strong quarterly sales and earnings.

The losses come at the end of what could wind up being the worst week for stocks so far this year. The Dow has declined more than 3%. The Nasdaq is on pace for its first weekly decline of the year.

All three indexes are in negative territory for the year. The selling has some investors bracing for a correction, usually defined as a decline of 10% or more.

“$SPY If market doesn’t bounce here, I imagine this will end up being a full 10% correction,” said StockTwits trader kgpittm.

StockTwits user Fundraising pointed out that he’d prefer a correction sooner rather than later so that stocks can resume their upward trend.

“$SPY with how much correction talk out there I would rather have it now so it has more legs to run later Bullish,” he said.

Investors dump stocks around the world: Concerns about an economic slowdown in China pressured markets around the globe.

Asian markets ended mixed after the HSBC survey showed that Chinese manufacturing activity slowed in January for the first time in six months and as a high-yield investment product from China’s largest bank faces imminent default.. The Shanghai Composite did wind up notching a 0.6% gain, but markets in Hong Kong and Tokyo both dropped more than 1%.

European markets were all lower in afternoon trading. And emerging market currencies were also in sell-off mode.

Argentina’s peso has tumbled more 15% against the dollar over the past two days amid concerns over the country’s foreign exchange reserves. Meanwhile, the Turkish lira fell to a record low for a ninth straight day against the dollar. The lira is down more than 8% this year. India’s rupee also lost significant ground against the dollar.

As investors fled riskier assets like stocks and emerging market currencies, they moved into safe havens like gold and Treasuries. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury fell to 2.73%, its lowest level since late November. (Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.)

Earnings continue to disappoint: News from Corporate America wasn’t helping either. After last year’s big rally, investors are looking for signs the economy will be strong enough to keep the bull market going but so far, this earnings season has been decent, as opposed to spectacular.

102 S&P 500 companies have reported fourth-quarter results, with only 66 beating analysts’ estimates, according to S&P Capital IQ. Of the remainder, 26 have missed, and 10 have met expectations.

Xerox shares took a dive after the copy machine company reported declines in quarterly revenue and profit.

Honeywell shares were also down as the defense contractor reported a slip in quarterly sales.

Procter & Gamble was one of the few bright spots in the market Friday. The stock rose nearly 4% after reporting quarterly profits that, while lower than a year ago, beat estimates.

Starbucks shares were also rising after the coffee giant reported better-than-expected earnings.

Natural gas jumps to almost 4-year high: As frigid temperatures continued to bite across many parts of the country, natural gas prices soared 6% above $5 per million British Thermal Unit, crossing the milestone for the first time since the summer of 2010.

Many home across the country use natural gas as their man heating fuel.

The ongoing surge in prices was a hot topic among traders, with many touting the United States Natural Gas commodity ETF.

“$UNG Burning through tomorrow’s household fuel….TODAY!” quipped chumpville.

“Look at Nat Gas go! #trendfollowing is loving this #polarvortex weather! $UNG” said attaincapital.

But StockTwits trader LinvestResearch predicted there could be a pullback in prices soon and pointed to the VelocityShares 3x Inverse Natural Gas ETN, which goes down when natural gas prices go up. It plunged 17% Friday.

“There will be correction after these gaps,” she said. “#Natgas has reached multi-year highs. Profit taken soon $UNG $DGAZ.”