Stocks fall on mixed economic news in US, China

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U.S. stock indexes opened sharply lower Wednesday on worries about global economic growth.

A batch of mixed economic reports from the U.S. government dampened traders’ hopes before the market opened.

The Labor Department said initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 393,000 last week, slightly more than economists expected. That’s a sign that layoffs are continuing.

Consumer spending increased 0.1 percent last month, below analysts’ expectations and the weakest gain in four months. Incomes, however, rose 0.4 percent, slightly better than expected.

Orders for long-lasting manufactured products fell for a second straight month. The Commerce Department said durable goods orders fell 0.7 percent, led by a drop in spending for commercial aircraft.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 130 points, or 1.1 percent, to 11,364 at 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 15, or 1.3 percent, to 1,173. The Nasdaq composite fell 30, or 1.2 percent, to 2,491.

Earlier, stock markets in Asia fell after a survey showed manufacturing slowing in China, the world’s second-largest economy. That came a day after the U.S. government lowered its estimate of third-quarter economic growth.

In corporate news, Deere & Co. said strong sales of its farm equipment helped boost the company’s fourth quarter profit by 46 percent, beating Wall Street expectations. Deere stock rose 4 percent.

In Europe, Germany failed to raise as much money as planned in an auction of 10-year bonds. Investors placed bids for only 60 percent of the 6 billion euros ($8.1 billion) up for sale. Part of the problem was the low interest rate, 1.98 percent, the lowest yield for 10-year bonds in the country’s history.

The U.S. government’s revision to third quarter economic growth helped knock stocks lower on Tuesday. Higher borrowing costs for Spain’s government also renewed worries about Europe’s debt crisis.

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Daniel Wagner can be reached at www.twitter.com/wagnerreports.