Weary investors sell as Spain seeks help

NEW YORK (AP) — Europe’s latest efforts to quell its financial crisis left investors exasperated Monday, causing steep losses in stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Europe, Spain formally asked for help to rescue the country’s ailing banks, but its request left many questions unanswered, including how much it needs of the $125 billion loan package offered by other European governments.

The uncertainty unsettled markets, pushing borrowing costs higher for Spain’s government. Spain’s stock market plunged 3.7 percent.

“Right now it’s all about Europe, and confidence is pretty low,” said Doug Cote, chief strategist for ING Investment Management. “The policies that they proposing are too little too late.”

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 138 points to close at 12,502.66, a loss of 1.1 percent. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell even more, 1.6 percent.

Big bank stocks slumped. Many analysts expect banks in Europe and the U.S. to suffer from a freeze-up in Europe’s financial system if Spain fails to rescue its troubled banks.

Bank of America dropped 4 percent, the biggest fall among the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average. BofA’s stock lost 34 cents to $7.60. JPMorgan Chase fell 67 cents to $35.32 and Citigroup dropped $1.24 to $26.75.

Analysts worry that Europe’s piecemeal approach to its spreading government debt crises may fall short, and the banking system of a large country like Spain could collapse. That could shock tightly connected global financial markets.

The dollar and Treasury prices rose as investors shifted money into low-risk investments. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.61 percent from 1.67 percent late Friday.

In other trading, the S&P 500 index fell 21.30 points to 1,313.72. All 10 of the index’s industry groups fell. The Nasdaq composite lost 56.26 points, or 1.9 percent, to 2,836.16.

Energy stocks were also big losers after the price of crude oil fell again. Benchmark U.S. crude lost 55 cents a barrel to $79.21.

down from $110 in late February. Exxon Mobil fell 87 cents to $81.24.

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