Stocks End Month Down 7.92% as Europe Crisis, Flash Crash Unsettle Investors


Between the “Flash Crash” and angst over the worsening crisis in Europe, stocks suffered a dismal May, posting their worst decline for the month since Franklin Roosevelt was in the White House.

The month ended with a thud Friday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 122.36 points, or 1.2%, to 10136.63, leaving it in negative territory for the week, the month and the year.

For market stalwarts the sharp drop has added further credence to the truism, “sell in May and go away.”

The Dow fell 871.98 points, or 7.92%, for the month. That was the worst May in percentage terms since 1940, when shares dropped 22%, and the worst May ever measured by points. Crude oil had its worst month since December 2008.

The Dow hit a new high for the year on April 26. Fears about Greece’s debt woes had eased and the economy was showing increasing signs of strength.

But May 6 brought the “Flash Crash,” a bewildering nearly 1,000-point slide that still defies explanation. Then fears of an expanding crisis in Europe took hold, sending investors out of stocks and into the safety of U.S. Treasury debt.

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