Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at the end of the day on January 15, 2016 in New York City.
Spencer Platt—Getty Images
January 15, 2016 4:59 PM EST

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the trading day down nearly 2.4% Friday, amid fears over plummeting oil prices and a slowdown in China.

The rout, which also saw the S&P 500 drop 2.16%, squashed hopes that American markets might dodge the turmoil plaguing international trading floors late this week. It was the worst ten-day start to a year since records began.

Oil’s fall to levels not seen since 2003 spooked investors for two reasons. First, it’s a nasty turn of events for energy firms, some of which are among the world’s biggest companies. But more broadly speaking, oil is seen as a proxy for global demand. Falling oil prices suggest overall demand is low, a sign the global economy may be cooling off.

China’s deceleration is another bad sign for investors, as any downturn on the part of the world’s second-largest economy is sure to have negative impacts across the global economy.

 

Write to Alex Fitzpatrick at alex.fitzpatrick@time.com.

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