Dow drops 550 points; S&P falls 3.5 percent

Dow drops 550 points; S&P falls 3.5 percent
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The Dow Jones industrial average on Wednesday fell more than 550 points while the S&P 500 index fell 3.5 percent Wednesday, marking another dismal day for United States stocks.

U.S. stocks slid to lows not touched since 2014 as the oil prices fell to $27 per gallon, spurred by economic concerns in China and a market flood threat from Iran. The number of stocks hitting record lows was the highest since Nov. 20, 2008, as global stocks closed with losses. 

The new year has been rough for the global economy, as slowing growth in China and turmoil in the Middle East is taking a toll on investor confidence.

A continuous economic downturn could become a major presidential campaign issue, a potential damper for candidates who tout President Obama's economic record and boon for those who insist on fundamental change.