The Dow was down as much as 450 points, or 1.8%, early Wednesday. The S&P 500 lost 1.7%, to 2,877, and the Nasdaq fell 1.9% to 7,866.
Earlier that day, prices on U.S. government bonds soared as safety-seeking investors bought up these products. As higher bond prices pushed yields lower, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note hit 1.622%, falling below the yield of a 2-year, which was 1.634%.
The last so-called inversion of this part of the yield curve came in December 2005, two years before a recession brought on by the financial crisis hit.