Major US stock indices sank nearly three per cent Friday as investors exhibited uncertainty about the economy, despite figures that showed a return to growth in the third quarter.
Weak consumer spending, which fell 0.5 per cent in September, contributed to the sell off, even as the White House said President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package has created or saved more than 640,000 jobs since it was enacted earlier this year.
The numbers indicated the US was on track to create 3.5 million new jobs by next year through government spending on infrastucture projects, education, health care and green technology, spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
But the new jobs have yet to dampen the high unemployment rate, which still stands at 9.8 per cent - the highest in more than 25 years. The White House numbers were based on stimulus spending through September.
The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 249.85 points, or 2.51 per cent, to 9,712.73. The broader Standard and Poor's 500 Index slid 29.92 points, or 2.81 per cent, to 1,036.19. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index lost 52.44 points, or 2.50 per cent, to 2,045.11.
The slide erased large gains from Thursday after the Commerce Department said US economic output grew at an annualised 3.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2009. Stocks ended down for the week, with the Dow shedding 2.60 per cent, the S&P 500 plunging 4.02 per cent and the Nasdaq dropping 5.08 per cent.
The US currency gained against the euro to 67.94 euro cents from 67.41 euro cents Thursday. The dollar fell against the Japanese currency to 90.09 yen from 91.47 yen.