Fears of Further Interest Hikes Devastate Dow

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NEW YORK: Investors fearing more rate hikes by the Fed sent the Dow plunging by more than 216 points, ending the day down 140. The decline is the eighth worst point drop in the Dow's history. Statistics published today showing robust home sales and a decline in unemployment claims -- both signs of the economic growth that the Fed fears will fuel inflation -- helped spark the sell-off. Consolidation of end-of-quarter portfolios in time for the three-day Easter holiday were also to blame. The bond market benefitted from those fears, with yields on 30-year Treasury bonds hitting 7.06 percent, up from 6.98 percent late Wednesday. Key victims of the frenzied sell-off included heavy weights Allied Signal, 3M, Exxon, Coca-Cola and Procter &Gamble. The dollar, meanwhile, also suffered, taking a slight dive to close at 123.48 yen and 1.6898 marks.