Stocks Drop on Debt Worries

U.S. stocks fell in early trading on Monday as debt worries continued to hang over markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 95.97 points to 12,383.76. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 8.03 points to 1,308.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index was off 15.91 points to 2,773.89.

Europe’s banking troubles and a debate over lifting the U.S. government’s borrowing limit helped drag down stock markets in Asia and Europe.

Ratings agency Moody’s on Monday suggested the United States should eliminate its statutory limit on government debt to reduce uncertainty among bond holders.

Oil prices slipped below $97 a barrel on Monday as weakening U.S. consumer confidence and more signs of financial stress in Europe renewed concerns about demand for crude. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for August delivery was down 80 cents to $96.44 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold rose to a record above $1,600 an ounce as debt concerns in Europe and the U.S. boosted demand for the metal as a protection of wealth. Bullion in euros and pounds rose to all-time highs and silver topped $40 an ounce.

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