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‘Black Friday’ declared state holiday October 31, 2014

Stocks slump on worries about US broker, Europe

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended October with steep losses. Investors were worried about the collapse of the brokerage MF Global and missing details in Europe’s plan to contain the Greek debt crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 276 points Monday but still had its best month since October 2002. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index had its best month since December 1991. The main reason for the rally was progress in Europe toward containing that region’s debt crisis.

The big breakthrough came last Thursday, when European leaders reached an agreement aimed at shoring up the region’s banks and preventing a debt crunch in Greece from bringing down Europe’s financial system.

But a lack of many key details in the plan has made investors uneasy again. And Monday, fresh reminders of how the Europe crisis can affect U.S. financial institutions helped bring the market lower.

Bank stocks fell sharply after the brokerage MF Global filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Dow fell 276.10 points, or 2.3 percent, to close at 11,955.01. The Dow closed above 12,000 last Thursday and Friday but prior to that it hadn’t close above 12,000 since Aug. 1.

The S&P 500 index fell 32, or 2.5 percent, to 1,253.30. Materials and energy companies fell the most. The Nasdaq composite index fell 53, or 1.9 percent, to 2,684.

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