The Dow was down 231 points, or 1.4 percent, at close. After early gains, it fell nearly 300 points over the course of the day. The S&P 500 was down 1.2 percent, and Nasdaq was down about 1.5 percent.
The dive came despite some good economic news Thursday morning. The Labor Department said unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 last week, to 315,000, in a sign that the job market was picking up, and the Department of Commerce said retail sales in February rose 0.3 percent, beating forecasts.