NEW YORK, Oct 19 (Reuters) -Caterpillar Inc.’s warning that the housing slump was infecting the wider economy sent U.S. stocks tumbling by the most in more than two months on Friday, in a drop that was made more unnerving as it marked the 20th anniversary of the 1987 market crash.
The Dow fell nearly 367 points after Caterpillar (CAT.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the world’s top maker of earth-moving construction and mining equipment, said the U.S. economy will be “near to, or even in, recession” next year. Several industries it serves already are in recession, it said.
The bleak comments from the economic bellwether, whose stock fell 5.3 percent, helped drag down the shares of other big manufacturers, including 3M Co. (MMM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), and contributed to a shift from stocks to the relative safety of U.S. Treasuries.
Weak North America results sent shares of Schlumberger Ltd (SLB.N: Quote, Profile, Research) down sharply. Schlumberger, the world’s largest oil service company, fell 11 percent, though its stock is still up 57 percent this year. Energy producers’ shares also fell as oil retreated from its record high just over $90 a barrel.
“It’s pretty ugly,” said Bill Strazzullo, partner and chief market strategist at Bell Curve Trading in Boston.
“A company like Caterpillar should be a poster child for global growth and benefits of the weak dollar. It makes you questionL Is global growth really that strong? Has the earnings kick from the weak dollar played itself out?”