U.S. The stock markets on Tuesday were in a two-day tail spin that threatens to squeeze benchmark indices for one of the worst starts to a quarter since the 2008-09 financial crisis.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, -1.73% ,
was down more than 500 points, or 2%, at 26,050, with a two-fold slide of around 3%, representing the worst start to a quarter since the last three months of 2008, when the Dow fell 19.4% in the fourth quarter, according to Dow Jones market data.
Already considered an unusually unstable period for the stock market, which has logged historically ugly October declines in 1929, 1987 and 2008, concerns about geopolitics and growing signs of national and international economic weakness have driven bearish efforts and sent stock market optimists, at least momentarily , and scrutinize for coverage in assets that are considered safe.
Read : Equities just delivered a reminder of October's reputation for volatility
See: How the stock market tends to trade for the rest of the year after a nasty  The 10-year Treasury
was down 5 basis points to 1.59% while gold futures
GCZ19, + 1.09%
went up 1.1% and again took a bullish perch for the port portion of $ 1500 per ounce.
Meanwhile, the broader market was also on track for its worst start in a quarter, trading in the first two sessions in October and setting the S&P 500 index
on pace to fall at least 2.9% to start the quarter, representing the worst start since a 5.49% slump in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP, -1.50% ,
down 2.7% so far in October, and the Russell 2000 index
RUT, -1.05% ,
of 3.1%, was set for its worst start in the quarter since 2009.
Reflects decline in stock indices, a reading of implied stock market volatility, the Cboe Volatility Index
VIX, + 8.24% ,
a bullish and bearish S&P 500 option bet that tends to rise as stocks fall was in line with the biggest increase to a quarter on the record. The so-called fear index increased by about 29% during the first two days of October, which would eclipse the 24.58% gain for the index back in the fourth quarter of 1992.
Helping stifle bearish sentiment on Wednesday was a private sector employment report from automatic data processing
ADP, -2.23% ,
which showed that a modest 135,000 jobs were created in September, with another sign that employment is declining along with the broader US economy. The data comes a day after the Institute for Supply Management's production survey produced the worst reading since 2009.
Evidence of a slowdown in the US economy also comes amid a sustained Sino-American dispute over tariffs and intellectual property rights among the world's largest economies.
Concerns about Britain's exit from the European Union, and developments related to President Donald Trump's inquiry into allegations that he had used the power of the Oval Office to undermine democratic elections, also concerned investors.
"Shares are stuck in the red as the fear of a recession has gripped the markets. Yesterday's horrible ISM production reading is playing on the minds of traders," David Madden, CMC Markets Market Analyst, wrote in a research note Wednesday. " The ADP report added to concerns about the US economy slowing down. "