Stocks Ended Sharply Lower on Europe Worries

U.S. stocks closed Wednesday with sizable losses, with the S&P 500 halting a five-session winning run, as investors fretted over the outcome of Italy’s sale of as much as 8.5 billion euros of longer-maturity debt Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 139.94 points, or 1.14%, to end at 12,151.41. The S&P 500 lost 15.79 points, or 1.25%, to end at 1,249.64. The Nasdaq Composite shed 35.22 points, or 1.34%, to 2,589.98.

Strong demand for short-term Italian government debt on Wednesday pushed the country’s borrowing costs lower and suggested investors have become less jittery about an imminent default by the eurozone’s third-largest economy. Italy raised euro 10.7 billion ($14 billion) in a pair of auctions. The Bank of Italy said the average yield on its euro9 billion ($11.8 billion) six- month bill offering was 3.251 percent, half the 6.504 percent rate it had to pay at the equivalent auction last month.

A New York Times employee misfired an email offering discounted subscriptions to customers who had recently canceled the newspaper, sending it to more than 8 million people instead of the 300 intended recipients. Questions about the emails hit Twitter on Wednesday, but it took the newspaper several hours to figure out what happened.

Oil futures headed lower in electronic trading after the American Petroleum Institute reported late Wednesday unexpected

increases in petroleum supplies. Crude-oil supplies climbed by 9.6 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 23, the API said.Gasoline inventories also rose by 1.9 million barrels, while distillate inventories added 554,000 barrels, the trade group said.

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