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U.S. stocks drift as fears of crisis in Europe return

Sep. 25, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks meandered sideways Monday as fears about Europe overshadowed recent excitement about central banks' efforts to boost the market.

Stocks opened lower, recovered by mid-afternoon to nearly flat and closed down modestly.

An index of business confidence in Germany, the biggest economy in Europe, fell for a fifth straight month. Many economists had expected it to at least remain flat. Some think Germany is headed for a recession.

The threat of the years-old European debt crisis has seemed less immediate in recent weeks as central banks unveiled measures aimed at encouraging investment and boosting the global economy. The German report reignited those fears.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 20.55 points, or 0.2 percent, at 13,558.92. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 3.26, or 0.2 percent, to 1,459.89. Its two strongest groups were utilities and telecommunications, safer stocks that tend to do well in a weaker economy.

The Nasdaq composite index dropped 19.18 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,160.78. The Nasdaq is heavy in technology shares, which were dragged lower by Apple.

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