The S&P 500 was down 53 points to 11-41.
The Nasdaq fell 131 points to 23-80.
Gold prices spiked to nearly 18-hundred-26-dollars an ounce.
The rocky trading day followed discouraging news from the housing and jobs sectors.
Wall Street is off to a rocky start for the day.
Stocks are sharply lower as the Dow fell more than 300 points in the opening minutes of trading.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both down more than three percent.
The latest report from the Labor Department showed a greater-than-expected rise in first-time claims for unemployment benefits.