Dow plunges more than 600 points, Nasdaq enters a correction

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An equities rout that wiped out the year's gains in USA stocks took a breather Thursday, as futures advanced and European shares steadied, even as Asia gauges extended declines.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index sank 1.91 percent, while the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dived 2.40 percent.

All 11 major S&P sectors were in the red, with the defensive utilities, real estate and consumer staples indexes posting the smallest losses.

United States stocks fell on Tuesday after worries about the earnings outlook added to recent selling pressure, though major indexes ended well off the day's lows as investors snapped up beaten-down shares late in the session.

"Investor sentiment remains cautious as we anticipate the reports of over 100 S&P 500 companies including Amazon, Alphabet and Comcast".

BOTCHED DELIVERY: United Parcel Service slid 5.3 percent to $108.02 after the shipping company reported weak worldwide revenue, while the strong dollar and high fuel prices also hurt its results.

The beaten-down technology sector fell 1.37 percent, led by chipmakers, over concerns of slowing growth in China and ahead of key earnings.

HOUSING SKID: The Commerce Department said sales of new USA homes plunged 5.5 percent in September, the fourth monthly drop. The Nasdaq composite gave up 127 points, or 1.7 percent, to 7,339.

The S&P 500 slid by about 3.1 percent, erasing all of its gains for the year.

Texas Instruments fell 8.2 percent to $92.01 after the chipmaker delivered quarterly results that fell short of Wall Street's forecasts, noting that demand across most markets is slowing.

Technology and health care companies took heavy losses Tuesday.

Elsewhere, European politics were also in focus, with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte doubling down on his government's budget proposal and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet descending into conflict. Futures markets for Japan's Nikkei index are also down more than 2%.

Citi has lowered its global growth forecast for both 2019 and 2020 by 0.1 percentage point each to 3.2 percent and 3 percent, respectively, it said in a note Thursday, citing policy tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Tokyo's Topix index.TOPX tumbled 3 percent, evaporating more than $155 billion in market value. Facebook gave up 4.7 percent to $147.09.

Stocks have been shaky for weeks as investors have anxious about global growth, potential impacts from trade disputes, and the Fed's determination to raise interest rates.

Traders also bid up shares in McDonald's after the fast-food chain reported third-quarter results that topped analysts' forecasts.

The S&P 500 lost 3.1 percent to 2,656.10 and has lost about 9.4 percent from its September 20 peak.

Benchmark U.S. crude edged up 0.6 percent to settle at $66.82 a barrel in NY. Brent crude, used to price global oils, declined 42 cents to $75.75 a barrel.

The dollar weakened to 112.44 yen from 112.47 yen on Tuesday.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange's volatility index, known as the VIX, or fear index, jumped 14 percent to its highest level in two weeks. The euro fell to $1.1387 from $1.1467.