Stocks Close Sharply Lower on Warnings Over Europe

U.S. stocks posted steep declines Wednesday after a rating agency signaled trouble ahead for U.S. banks should Europe’s debt trouble worsen. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 190.57 points, or 1.58%, to 11,905.59. The S&P 500 Index declined 20.89 points, or 1.66%, to 1,236.91. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 46.59 points, or 1.73%, to 2,639.61.

Fitch Ratings said Wednesday that the credit outlook for U.S. banks can worsen if the euro-zone debt crisis is not resolved in a timely manner. Fitch maintained Europe’s sovereign debt crisis still poses a threat to U.S. banks even though the institions have reduced their exposure to the region over the past year.

Crude futures surpassed $102 a barrel on Wednesday to close at their best since late May as investors cheered news about a pipeline they hope will alleviate supply bottlenecks. Crude for December delivery rose $3.22, or 3.2%, to $102.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Foreign investors were buyers of a net $84.5 billion of Treasury notes and bonds in September, government data released Wednesday showed. This is up from $60.1 billion inAugust. Overall, foreigners bought a net $68.6 billion of long-term U.S. assets in September, up from $58.0 billion in August.

Sysco Corp. said Wednesday that it will buy back 20 million shares and increased its quarterly cash dividend by 4 percent. The food distribution company said that it will pay a 27 cents-per-share dividend on Jan. 27 to shareholders of record as of Jan. 6. This is up from its current dividend of 26 cents per share.

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