The Dow lost nearly 500 points Wednesday as the main indexes suffered their sharpest one-day declines in nearly six weeks.
Investors grew increasingly concerned about an economic slowdown stemming from the trade war after a report showed hiring by private employers slowed last month.
Stocks fell across the board, sending the S&P 500 down 1.8%.
It and the Dow fell below key technical levels that could presage further losses.
Phoenix Financial Services chief market analyst, Wayne Kaufman: SOUNDBITE: PHOENIX FINANCIAL SERVICES CHIEF MARKET ANALYST, WAYNE KAUFMAN (ENGLISH) SAYING: "These are panic levels.
This is so far what we call a 90% down day." Shares of Ford dropped.
The carmaker's quarterly auto sales fell about 5% in the U.S. That also pulled down GM's stock.
Activision Blizzard shares fell.
Bernstein downgraded the videogame maker's shares to "underperform" from "market perform," saying the stock is overpriced.
Johnson & Johnson was one of only two Dow stocks to finish in the black.
The drugmaker agreed to pay $20.4 million to settle opioid claims by two Ohio counties, allowing it to avoid an upcoming federal trial.