Stocks Sank on Global Worries

U.S. stocks sank Thursday on worries about the global economy and the health of European banks.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 419.63 points, or 3.68%, to 10,990.58. The S&P 500 fell 53.24 points, or 4.46%, to 1,140.65. The Nasdaq Composite lost 131.05 points, or 5.22%, to 2,380.43.

New worries about the health of European banks set the tone before the market’s open, and a dismal report on regional U.S. manufacturing fueled a downward spiral in which the Dow dropped as much as 528 points, spurring a flight to safe- haven assets like gold.

Hewlett-Packard Co. reported an increase in its third-quarter net income on Thursday, but the technology company gave a lower-than-expected outlook for the current quarter and cut its revenue outlook for the year.The company earned 93 cents per share in the latest quarter. That’s up from 75 cents per share a year earlier. Its revenue climbed less than 2 percent to $31.2 billion from $30.7 billion.

American International Group Inc. has paid the federal government $2.15 billion this week after selling off a life insurance subsidiary, trimming its financial bailout balance to roughly $51 billion.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen to its lowest level on records dating to 1971. The rate on the most popular mortgage dipped to 4.15 percent from 4.32 percent a week ago, Freddie Mac said Thursday. Its previous low of 4.17 percent was reached in November.

The price of gold hit its latest record high, near $1,830 an ounce. Gold for December delivery, the most-traded futures contract, was worth $1,823 an ounce, up $29.20, or 1.6 percent. Earlier Thursday it hit $1,829.70 per ounce, a record high.

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