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The Dow closes 332 points down as Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

Posted on 20 January 2009

The Dow lost 332 points and ended below 8,000 for the first time since late November as investors focused their attention on Washington, D.C.

Stocks had been lower all day but paused in their descent briefly as Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s 44th president.

During his speech Obama said, “Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day. …The market can spin out of control — and a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity.”

After hearing the new president’s inaugural address Tuesday, investors went back to unloading stocks. Financial companies led the market lower as investors worried about the state of the world’s banks.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed 332 points down at the 7,949 level. Broader indexes fell more than 5 percent.

Earlier Tuesday, the Royal Bank of Scotland forecasted a $41.3 billion loss for 2008, leading the British government to again bail out banks. The bailout could be similar to the deals the U.S. government reached recently with Citigroup and Bank of America.

The market’s angst intensified with multibillion losses reported last week by Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc.