The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged below the key psychological 12,000 level for the first time since March on Friday as fears spread that the global economic recovery is losing steam.
Meanwhile, a top Federal Reserve official warned that the pace of growth will remain "painfully slow" for many and the risks to recovery have increased.
Although financial conditions have improved and the pace of job creation has quickened in the last year, a recent run of disappointing data suggested the recovery is increasingly at risk, New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley said in a speech to business leaders in Brooklyn, N.Y.
High food and energy prices and a weak housing market were among the main factors likely to keep consumer budgets tight, he said.
"I anticipate economic growth will pick up enough in the second half of 2011 to sustain a moderate economic recovery," Dudley said. "Still, the pace of recovery will probably be painfully slow for the many unemployed and underemployed workers."
While non-food and non-energy price rises remain modest, he said it is crucial for the Fed to ensure inflation expectations remain in check.
Meanwhile, the stock market is on track for its sixth straight weekly loss, which would be the longest weekly losing streak since the fall of 2002. The market's last seven-week stretch of losses began in May 2001, as the dot-com bubble deflated.
Stocks have suffered this month after weak economic news dampened hopes for a speedy recovery. Traders fear that weaker hiring, industrial output, and a moribund housing market are reversing a bull market that has lifted the Dow 20 percent over the past year.
Read more on Newsmax.com: Dow Plunge Beneath 12,000 Raises More Economic Fears
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