To end the invent week, markets all over the globe are taking a beating in the wake of the Federal Reserve announcement that it could reduce its aggressive economic stimulus program for the U.S later this year.

Stocks took a downslide of 353 points, erasing six weeks of gains and hitting their low point so far for this year. Bond prices fell, and gold and oil also took a downward turn.

Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market yesterday, a sign that investors are aggressively reducing risk. The Russell 2000 index, which includes such stocks, slumped 25.98 points, or 2.6 percent, to 960.52. The index closed at a record high of 999.99 points Tuesday.

On the international scene, there was a slowdown in the manufacturing sector in China, the world's second-largest economy. Asia also began the stock sell-off, which quickly trended through Europe and the U.S.

On the bright side, however, the S&P 500 is still up 11.4 percent for the year, and 135 percent since a recession low in March 2009.