US stocks fell on Thursday as bank and insurance stocks were again hit by investors worried about credit conditions and recession fears.
The value of credit default swaps backed by defaulted Lehman Brothers bonds will be set on Friday, with protection sellers expected to face massive losses of around 90% of the insurance they sold.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a triple-digit gain after the opening bell but fell to a loss of 49 points, or 0.53%, at 9221.
General Motors shares have fallen 13% and the market capitalisation is down to the level it was at in March 1929 - at about $4 billion. It had a market cap of $52 billion in 2000. The stock has fallen 45% in the last month.
In today's dollars, the 1929 valuation would be $48 billion.
General Motors lost the top rank in global sales to Japanese rival Toyota Motors when the US carmaker reported a slight fall in first-quarter 2008 sales because of weakness in its home market. Fortune Report
GM narrowly held onto their 76-year title of world's largest carmaker by sales by a margin of just a few thousand vehicles in 2007.
"We were also behind Toyota in the first quarter last year," Michael DiGiovanni, GM's director of industry and market analysis, said in a conference call.
GM's January-through-March sales fell 0.6% to 2.25 million vehicles while Toyota's sales hit 2.41 million despite a 4.2% drop in Japanese sales.
The Dow hit a record high one year ago but has now fallen 35% from that mark. It has fallen 15% over the past six trading days.
Dow Jones Milestones- General Electric is the only survivor of the 12-company index that was launched in 1896
The S&P 500 fell 0.47% and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.67%.
The credit markets remained under stress. According to data from the British Bankers' Association, overnight US dollar Libor fell to 5.09375%, against Wednesday's fixing of 5.375%.
The European Banking Federation in Brussels reported that 3-month Euribor remained steady at 5.393% despite a cut in the ECB's benchmark interest rate to 3.75% on Wednesday.
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In Europe, the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index dropped Thursday 2.1% and the Pan-European index lost 13% in the previous three days - - the biggest such drop since October 1987.
The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index slid 2.1 percent to 221.62 as of 4:30 p.m. in London. The index sank 13 percent in the previous three days, the biggest such drop since October 1987
National benchmarks fell in 11 of the 17 open Western European markets. Germany's DAX fell 2.5%; the FTSE 100 lost 1.2% and France's CAC 40 dropped 1.6%.
In Dublin, the iSEQ Index gave up earlier gains and fell 0.54%
IL&P gained 11% and Anglo Irish 8%.
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