US stocks fall Monday

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market took a late afternoon fall after European Union finance ministers failed to come up with the full amount of money pledged for a bailout fund.

Banks led the way down Monday. Morgan Stanley dropped 5.5 percent and Bank of America Corp. sank 4 percent, the biggest fall in the Dow Jones Industrial average.

The Dow lost 100.13 points, or 0.8 percent to close at 11,766.26. The average lost 55 points in the last hour of trading as reports emerged that the E.U. finance ministers couldn’t drum up the full 200 billion euros ($261 billion) in new money to the International Monetary Fund. European leaders had pledged the money for a special IMF fund for struggling European countries at a summit meeting less than two weeks ago.

Cautious comments from the head of the European Central Bank also helped push stocks lower. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 14.31 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,205.35. The Nasdaq composite index fell 32.19 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,523.14.

In the U.S., a gauge of sentiment among builders inched up to its highest level since May 2010. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index added two points to 21 in December. Any reading below 50 still reflects a negative outlook.

The three major stock market indexes lost more than 2 percent last week amid worries that some European governments would try to drop the euro. Fitch Ratings warned Friday that it may cut the credit grades for Italy, Spain and four other countries that use the currency.

With two weeks of trading left in 2011, the S&P 500 is 4.2 percent below where it started the year. The Dow has managed to gain 1.6 percent in 2011, led by McDonald’s Corp. and its 26 percent gain.

Nearly four stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was very light at 3.6 billion.

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