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US stocks slump amid eurozone worries

Feb 05 2013 06:59 AFP


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New York - US stocks closed sharply lower on Monday as signs of political instability in Italy and Spain renewed worries about the the eurozone's long-running public debt crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 129.71 points to finish at 13,880.08.

The S&P 500-stock index fell 17.46 to 1,495.71.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index skidded 47.93 to 3,131.17, dragged down by a 2.5% fall in Apple.

After the US equity markets hit highs unseen in more than five years last week, stocks were "pressured by political concerns out of the eurozone," Charles Schwab & Co. said in a market note.

Investors worried about political instability ahead of Italy's February 24-25 election and as Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faced corruption allegations, which he has denied.

Government data showing US industrial orders rose less than expected in December weighed further on sentiment.

Analysts said that Wall Street had been due for a breather after the Dow closed Friday above the psychologically important 14,000 level for the first time in more than five years.

McGraw-Hill, parent of Standard & Poor's, plunged 13.8%. S&P said it expects to be sued by the US Department of Justice over its rating of mortgage bonds prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

Oracle shed almost 1.0% after offering $2.1bn in cash to buy Acme Packet, whose technology enables the communication of voice and data over networks. Acme Packet soared 23.7%.

Computer maker Dell dropped 2.6% amid reports it was near a deal to go private.

BlackBerry, the former Research in Motion trading for the first day under its new corporate name and symbol, soared 15.0%.

Embattled nutritional goods company Herbalife lost 1.3% following a report in the New York Post that the company is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

Anheuser-Busch Inbev dived 5.0% after Bank of America Merrill Lynch downgraded the stock following the Justice Department's suit last week to block its takeover of Mexico's Modelo. The suit left AB InBev's outlook "highly uncertain," the broker said.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 1.97% from 2.01% late on Friday, while the 30-year declined to 3.18% from the 3.21% level Friday. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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