Bernanke said at a news conference Wednesday the Fed would likely unwind its quantitative easing program sometime in 2014. Investors reacted Wednesday afternoon, sending markets lower in a reaction that rippled around the globe Thursday.
Markets closed lower in Asia, with China's Shanghai composite index off 2.77 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong down 2.88 percent. Markets were down more than 3 percent in Germany, Italy, Belgium and France and 2.86 percent in Sweden.
Metals were hit hard, with silver off 9.5 percent to $19.56 per ounce and gold down 6.8 or $93.80 to $1,280.20 per troy ounce.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil shifted to $94.98 per barrel in after-hours trading.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 353.87 points Thursday, giving the index a two-day loss of more than 559 points.
The blue-chip index dropped 2.34 percent Thursday to 14,758.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 shed 40.74 points or 2.5 percent to close at 1,588.19. The Nasdaq composite lost 78.57 points or 2.28 percent to end the day at 3,364.63.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 170 issues advanced and 2,976 declined on volume of 4.8 billion shares bought and sold.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index, dropped 1.74 percent or 230.64 points to 13,014.58. Britain's FTSE 100 index shed 2.98 percent or 189.31 points to 6,159.51.
The 10-year treasury note fell 18/32 to yield 2.425 percent.
On currency markets, the euro rose to $1.3222. Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 97.44 yen.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, corn for December delivery shed 10 1/2 cents to hit $5.60 per bushel while soybeans for November delivery lost 26 3/4 cents to close at $12.84 and July contract wheat gave up 7 1/4 cents to finish at $6.99 3/4.
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