No panic, but local investors concerned as stocks plunge

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – On the first day of trading since Standard & Poor's downgraded the country's credit rating, investor anxiety showed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 634 points. That's the biggest one-day point drop in almost three years, and the first time below 11,000 since November. Other major indicators fell as well: The S&P 500 lost 79, and the Nasdaq fell almost 175.

More than 69 stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange

Local advisors are urging investors not to panic, but that's proving to be a tough sell, especially with the scars still fresh from the plunge of 2008.

Even as President Obama tried to reassure the nation, local investment firms were watching wealth dwindle away.

"No matter what some agency may say, we've always been and always will be a triple A country," said the president during an afternoon news conference.

The major indices saved their worst for the end of the trading day...dropping 5-7% on the heels of a credit downgrade.

At Riverfront Investment Group, Michael Jones was looking for any sign of stability from the stunning one-day free-fall.

"If we can't hold, then the market could drop another 7, 8, 9%. At those kinds of prices, you're not pricing in a recession, you're starting to get the panicky sort of pricing that we saw in 2008, 2009," Jones said Monday.

At Leahy and Clair Financial Management, John Clair said it all began to feel familiar.

"It reminds me a little bit of the emotions back in 2008. It's a little bit like déjà vu," he said.

In 2008, the collapse was much worse over a longer period of time. Clients who weathered that storm are asking if they should sell everything this time?

"I can't tell you whether this is most storms or not, but I would say not to panic," said Clair.

Advisors also say the plunge was not unexpected. But it's more difficult to say what investors can expect, next.

"The key point, is to not let the sudden drop in the market take you off your focus, and understand where long  term value is," Jones said.

While the country may have lost its top tier rating, Virginia, for the moment, still maintains its AAA rating. Also of note: as investors dumped stocks, many bought treasury bonds, seen as a safer investment.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.