September retail sales are grim, and a report on manufacturing in the New York area shows a sharp contraction. Crude oil falls below $75. JPMorgan surprises the Street with a profit. Intel reports a profit jump but cautions that demand will be weak.

By Charley Blaine and Elizabeth Strott

The Dow Jones industrials fell below 9,000 again today as stocks were slammed by disappointing reports on retail sales and manufacturing.

The gloom on Wall Street deepened this afternoon when the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, an anecdotal look at the economy, painted a picture of weakening business, with almost all sectors falling back except agriculture.

The economic worries weighed as well on crude oil, which fell below $75 a barrel for the first time since August 2007. Energy stocks slumped in response.

At 3:45 p.m. ET, the Dow was down 607 points, or 6.5%, to 8,704. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index tumbled 77 points, or 7.7%, to 921, and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 126 points, or 7.1%, to 1,653.

read more | digg story