Wall St tumbles on Libyan turmoil

U.S. stocks ended sharply lower on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 losing 2.05 percent in its worst one-day percentage drop since August, as investors dumped stocks on turmoil in oil exporter Libya, in what could be the start of a long-anticipated pullback after a lengthy rally.

Rising volatility and heavy volume added heft to the possibility of a larger pullback.

The CBOE Volatility Index, Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose 26.9 percent, which would be its biggest one-day jump since May 20, 2010.

Based on the latest available data, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 178.46 points, or 1.44 percent, to end unofficially at 12,212.79. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 27.57 points, or 2.05 percent, to finish unofficially at 1,315.44. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 77.53 points, or 2.74 percent, to close unofficially at 2,756.42.