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Markets See Heavy Losses as Disney Pressures Media Stocks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks extended heavy losses by midday Thursday as Disney (DIS - Get Report) triggered a sell-off among media companies.

The S&P 500 was down 1.1%, the Nasdaq slid 1.6%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.3%.

Disney dropped nearly 5% after Bernstein downgraded shares to 'market perform' from 'outperform' on concerns for media stocks in general. Analysts said valuations need to be revised given the risk associated with declining affiliate fees.

Fears over a Federal Reserve rate hike in September also pressured markets after better-than-expected housing and business activity data set the stage for a move of crises-level rates sooner than later.

Existing home sales jumped 2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million in July, according...