Stocks fall as European financial crisis expands

May 13, 2011 - 12:44 PM
Wall Street

In this Thursday, May 12, 2011 photo, specialist Jim Ahrens, left, and trader Michael Urkonis work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Robust economic growth figures for the eurozone helped shore up stock markets in Europe Friday, May 13, 2011 and gave the euro some respite after a savage sell-off over the previous week. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — Signs that European bailouts will be larger than originally forecast upended financial markets Friday, sending the dollar up nearly 1 percent and erasing the week's gains in the stock market.

Stocks in countries that use the euro fell after the European Union warned that the debt loads of Greece, Ireland and Portugal will be larger than originally thought. Officials said that Greece needs to cut spending further, which led to concerns that the assistance the country has already received won't be enough. The Euro Stoxx 50, an index of large companies in countries that use the euro, fell 0.8 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 140 points, or 1.1 percent, to 12,555 in early afternoon trading. The S&P 500 fell 14, or 1 percent, to 1,335. The Nasdaq composite lost 34, or 1.2 percent, to 2,829. The slide turned each index lower for the week.

All 30 stocks that make up the Dow index fell. JPMorgan Chase & Co. had the largest loss, 2.2 percent.

Fears of a deepening financial crisis overshadowed reports that found that consumers are feeling more confident in the U.S. economy and that inflation remains in check. Consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in April, the Labor Department said. That was in line with economist's expectations.

Most of the increases came in volatile food and energy prices. Stripping those out, prices rose 0.2 percent and stayed below the rate of inflation that the Federal Reserve considers normal.

"Inflation doesn't look like the risk that everyone feared," said Doug Cote, the chief market strategist at ING Investment Management.

The prices that consumers pay have risen 3.2 percent over the last 12 months, the biggest 12-month gain since October 2008. Companies like Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Colgate-Palmolive Co. that sell households products have raised prices because of higher commodity costs that have cut into their profit margins. Costs for raw materials like oil, coffee, and cattle have risen more than 10 percent this year.

Bond prices rose as investors moved money into assets that are considered safe. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond fell to 3.15 percent from 3.23 late Thursday.

No major U.S. companies are scheduled to report results Friday. Nordstrom Inc. lost 2.5 percent after the retailer lowered its full-year earnings forecast late Thursday, due partly to the acquisition of an online shopping site HauteLook.