As the Dow plummets on the first day of trading after the historic downgrade of U.S. debt, President Barack Obama tries to restore confidence as he speaks about the S&P's controversial move.
By the afternoon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down more than 400 points, or 3.6 percent, after plunging 228 early in the day. The S&P and NASDAQ were both down 4.5 percent. Banking and commodities were among the hardest hit in the slump, with Bank of America dropping 9.5 percent and United States Steel down 7.6 percent. "Everyone's hair is on fire," said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco. Global markets also suffered, particularly in Asia, where they dropped more than 2 percent. The value of gold, meanwhile, hit records in Asia as investors fled to safety.