Trouble in overseas markets spilled into the U.S. (Stan Honda / Getty Images )
A brutal sell-off overseas spilled into U.S. markets Monday morning, pushing the major averages down more than 1%.
Growing political concerns in Europe and disappointing economic data across the continent fed worries that a cure for Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, which seemed to be underway only weeks ago, could be in jeopardy amid weakening growth prospects and popular revolt among wide swaths of the European citizenry.
Investors were rattled by data showing manufacturing contracting. Markets also were unnerved by the French presidential race, in which President Nicolas Sarkozy trailed his Socialist opponent, and by the Dutch prime minister offering to resign in the face of a backlash against his spending cuts.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 144.48 points, or 1.1%, to 12,884.78 early in the trading day. The Standard & Poor’s 500 sagged 15.23 points, or 1.1%, to 1,363.30. The Nasdaq composite slid 39.85 points, or 1.3%, to 2,960.60.
Stocks sagged 3.4% in Germany, 2.8% in France and 4.6% in Stockholm.
Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. dropped 5% after the giant retailer announced an internal probe into allegations that the company systematically bribed Mexican officials to speed its growth in the country. The announcement followed a detailed story revealing the allegations in the New York Times.
The market sell-off continued a recent pattern in the U.S. equity market in which investors are on the lookout for signs that the economic progress of the opening months of 2012 may give way to slower growth later in the year.
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