REUTERS/CNBC Wall Street opened sharply lower Monday after weak Chinese economic data ignited fears of global growth and sparked a selloff in stock markets across the world.
The Dow Jones industrial average sank 347 points, or 2 percent, as of 9:35 a.m. ET. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 37 points, or 1.8 percent, and the Nasdaq composite gave up 112 points, or 2.2 percent, to 4,895.
Earlier, Mainland Chinese shares fell 7 percent, triggering a new circuit breaker that halted trading, after surveys showed factory activity at the world's second-largest economy shrank sharply in December.
Adding to the investors' worries, China's central bank fixed the yuan at a 4-1/2 year low.
"Those are violent New Year fireworks. That's quite a way to start the day off," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
"Right now, the focal point is China, the global economic condition, and the fact that we're coming off a disappointing year on many levels, a frustrating year on many levels," he said.