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Stocks sink as economic outlook dims

May. 02, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- Signs of a slowing economy dragged down the stock market Wednesday. Even the prospect of continued stimulus from the Federal Reserve didn't help.

Major market indexes fell by 0.9 percent, their worst decline in two weeks. Small-company stocks fell even more, 2.5 percent, as investors shunned risk. The yield on the benchmark U.S. government bond fell to its lowest of the year as investors sought safety.

Stocks opened lower and kept sagging throughout the day, hurt by reports of a slowdown in hiring and manufacturing last month. Discouraging earnings news from major U.S. companies also dragged the market lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 138.85 points to 14,700 points. Merck, the giant drug company, had one of the biggest falls in the Dow after reporting earnings that disappointed investors. The Dow had risen for four days straight.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index, a broader market measure, dropped 14.87 to 1,582.70.

The Nasdaq composite index dropped 28 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,300. The Russell 2000 index, a gauge of small-company stocks, fell 23.25 points to 924.21.

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