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U.S. stocks fall as European debt worries offset positive data
Date: 2010/12/17 Click: 1642
The U.S. stocks on Wednesday pulled back from a two-year high as investors became more concerned about the eurozone debt crisis despite improving U.S. economic data.

The pre-Christmas market, fueled by more positive economic data, seemed to take some heat out as concerns over the European sovereign debt problems came back.

Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service said on Tuesday it may downgrade its ratings on Spanish government debt.

"Spain's substantial funding requirements, not only for the sovereign but also for the regional governments and the banks, make the country susceptible to further episodes of funding stress, " Moody's lead analyst on Spain Kathrin Muehlbronner said in a statement.

However, the agency said it did not expect Spain would have to ask the European Union for a bailout, as Greece and Ireland did.

Spain's government has slashed spending to reduce its high deficit, reformed labor laws, forced weak savings banks to merge and announced state asset sales to try to calm market fears over its finances.

Markets worries sent the euro into a falling path and drove down the financial sector by 1.01 percent. Shares of Citigroup Inc. dropped 2.13 percent.

Earlier in the day, the market once got lifted as data indicated the U.S. economic recovery is gaining momentum without generating inflation.

Output at factories, mines and utilities rose 0.4 percent, the biggest gain since July, after a revised 0.2-percent drop in October, a Federal Reserve report showed. And the consumer price index climbed 0.1 percent in November after a 0.2-percent gain in the prior month, the Labor Department said.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Empire State Manufacturing Survey, New York manufacturing activity rebounded this month. Data showed the Empire State's business conditions index jumped to 10.57 in December from -11.14 in November, while economists were expecting a much more modest gain.

At closing, the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 19.07 points, or 0.17 percent, to 11,457.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 6.36 points, or 0.51 percent, to 1,235.23 and the Nasdaq was down 10.50 points, or 0.40 percent, to 2,617.22.

In other markets, crude prices rose as U.S. crude oil inventories registered an unexpected drop last week. Light, sweet crude for January delivery gained 34 cents to 88.62 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The U.S. dollar traded mixed against major currencies in late New York trading as the euro fell on Moody's warning.
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