Chicago and Illinois firms take hit as broader market retreats on economy worries

Major Chicago companies like Boeing, Walgreens and OfficeMax declined as investors lost confidence the economy will rebound.

August 4, 2011

By Ashley Gross

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(Clockwise from top left: Getty Images, Flickr, AP, Flickr/dcsale, AP, Wikicommo

Investors dumped shares in major Chicago companies on Thursday, amid increasing concern the economy has lost steam. Boeing Inc. shares fell 6.3 percent. Walgreen Co. dropped 2.8 percent and OfficeMax Inc. plunged 10 percent.

The Dow closed with a loss of 513 points, or 4.3 percent, to 11,384. It was the worst day for the Dow since October 22, 2008.  The S&P 500 is down 60, or 4.8 percent, to 1,200. The Nasdaq is down 137, or 5.1 percent, to 2,556.

Investors are worried the economic recovery has now evaporated and that tomorrow’s jobs report will be bleak. Concern also increased about the ability of Spain and Italy to handle their debt loads.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange's Volatility Index - dubbed the "Fear Index" - jumped 36 percent. The index tracks how much investors are willing to pay to protect themselves against a decline in the S&P 500 Index.

Mesirow Financial economist Adolfo Laurenti says investors are seeking security.

"We have seen a disappointing number from GDP, we are seeing a job market that is not shifting to higher gears and I think people are really revising down their expectations for the second half of the year," Laurenti said.

Drug maker Abbott Laboratories was down 3 percent. Oak Brook, IL-based McDonalds Corp. was down 1.4 percent.

Even Kraft, which had risen earlier in the day on news that it will split into two companies, fell more than a percentage point. But at least one Chicago company bucked the trend – cellphone maker Motorola Mobility Solutions climbed 3.5 percent.

--The Associated Press contributed to this report.