With no concrete action in Europe, stocks slump

NEW YORK (AP) — European leaders on Thursday gamely promised to keep tackling the continent’s debt crisis. But the markets wanted much more.

Stocks sank across the U.S. and Europe, the euro fell against the dollar and investors dumped bonds issued by the governments of Spain and Italy. Investors had been expecting more immediate action from the European Central Bank and were disappointed by the plan’s lack of details, especially considering the ECB president’s pledge last week to do “whatever it takes” to keep the euro intact.

A week later, investors’ response was more like: “whatever.”

It was the second day in a row that markets were disappointed by a lack of decisive action from a major central bank. On Wednesday, stocks closed lower after the Federal Reserve made only vague promises about its plans for trying to revive the U.S. economy.

“It’s more jawboning, it’s more copy and paste from last week,” said Kenny Polcari, managing director of the brokerage ICAP. “There was no definitive plan, and so all the hype and energy (Draghi) created last week is going to go down in flames today.”

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 92.18 points to 12,878.88. The Dow had been down as much as 192 shortly after noon.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 10.32 to 1,365. The Nasdaq composite index lost 10.44 to 2,909.77.

It was the fourth day in a row of losses; U.S. stocks haven’t risen since ECB President Mario Draghi’s now-famous three-word promise one week ago.

Investors had been hoping for clear action from the ECB, such as a cut in interest rates or clear plans to buy more European government bonds, which could lower borrowing costs for troubled countries like Spain and Italy.

But Germany’s central bank, which has footed much of the bill for bailing out other European countries, declined to go along. And so Draghi on Thursday had to tell a highly anticipated news conference that the ECB “may” intervene in the bond market. He promised the ECB would consider other emergency measures in coming weeks.

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