Stocks are finishing the day lower, but there's some relief that the pullback wasn't as bad as it could have been.
The Dow fell nearly 500 points in the opening minutes before regaining some ground.
It closed down more than 300 points. The drop puts it more than 40 percent down from where the index stood a year ago.
There were big declines overseas today after another round of grim corporate news, which stirred new fears about global economies.
After plunging 500 points at the start of the trading day, the Dow has regained some ground.
Still, it's well into negative territory as most major stock indexes around the world have been.
Earlier, Japan's main stock index fell nearly 10 percent. Germany's benchmark index saw an even bigger drop.
One analyst says traders are facing the "realization" that the global economy is in recession.
"There's a lot of panic out there today."
That's how one analyst describes the markets today. Stocks prices have been heading sharply downward since trading opened this
morning on a growing belief the global economy is plunging into recession.
The Dow has been down by as much as 500 points in morning trading.
Wall Street is joining world stock markets in a precipitous plunge, with the Dow Jones industrials dropping more than 400 points in the opening minutes of trading.
The growing belief that the world will suffer a punishing economic recession has investors furiously dumping stocks.
Grim news from overseas has added to the worldwide gloom. Big companies including Sony and Daimler are warning of tough times ahead, joining U.S. companies in scaling back their earnings forecasts.
As of 9 a.m., the Dow was down 444 at the 8,251 level. All the major indexes are down more than 4 percent.