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For the second day in a row, Wall Street battled back from triple-digit decline, but the comeback on Tuesday wasn’t enough to erase a Google-fueled 1% drop on the Nasdaq Composite or prevent the Dow’s first losing month since August.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 46.47 points, or 0.42%, to 11006.02, the Standard & Poor's 500 declined 7.21 points, 0.61%, to 1180.55 and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 26.99 points, or 1.07%, to 2498.23. The FOX 50 lost 6.15 points, or 0.72%, to 845.58.
The rocky month of November ended in fittingly turbulent fashion as Wall Street continues to be rattled by global concerns. The markets were moved by a number of conflicting developments on Tuesday, including a 4.5% selloff for Google (NYSE:GOOG) on a European regulatory probe, another plunge for the euro and a five-month high in consumer confidence. Then just before the closing bell, S&P put Portugal on credit watch negative, bolstering the markets' sovereign debt worries.
"Whether it is the EU banking crisis, flagging recovery at home, stubbornly high unemployment rates, or the general backdrop of excess liquidity and reckless spending, the headwinds are real," Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Capital Group, wrote in a note. "Given the overall lack of investor interest at these levels, a continued downdraft in the markets is the likely result."
By landing in the red, the Dow posted its first losing month since August. The benchmark index lost just over 100 points and fell for the third time of the last four Novembers. Some believe the losses on Wall Street won't last for long.
“In all likelihood we think this pullback will be a good buying opportunity,” said Ryan Detrick, equities analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research.
The blue chips, which had been down as much as 110 points, were led lower by Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), which has been rocked by concerns it may be the target of a WikiLeaks investigation. The index's best performers were United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT).
Dragged down by Google, the Nasdaq Composite slid 1%. Google ended at session lows after the European Commission said it launched an antitrust probe into allegations the tech giant abused its dominant online search position. Google was also moved by reports it is nearing a deal worth as much as $6 billion to acquire local online discounter Groupon. The reported price tag would make it Google's largest acquisition ever and be well above a previous offer by Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO).
Other tech stocks also dropped as Seagate Technology (NYSE:STX) slid 3% a day after scrapping plans to be taken private and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) came under pressure from a series of negative analyst notes, including a downgrade from "overweight" to "neutral" by Piper Jiffray.
Wall Street remains focused on the global picture as the euro tumbled to a fresh two-month low, diving 1.02% to $1.2988. The currency has been slammed by fears that the $115 billion rescue of Ireland won't be enough to stop the crisis from spreading to bigger economies in Portugal or even Spain. Underscoring those concerns, the cost to insure the debts of Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and even Belgium all hit record highs and S&P put Portugal on watch for a downgrade.
A weaker euro against the dollar also creates problems for Wall Street because a stronger greenback tends to weigh on commodities and hurt exports.
In the commodities complex, crude oil slid $1.62 a barrel, or 1.89%, to $84.11. Capping off its fourth-straight monthly rally, gold jumped $19.00 a troy ounce, or 1.39%, to $1,385.00.
Meanwhile, Wall Street continues to be sensitive to signs that China will need to tighten its monetary policy to prevent its economy from overheating. Reports out of Asia about a potential capital gains tax and a big interest rate hike concerned some traders. China's Shanghai Composite sold off 1.6% and Japan's Nikkei 225 lost nearly 2%.
The selloff was mitigated by mostly positive news on the domestic economy. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose in November from 49.9 to 54.1 -- its highest level since June 2010. Economists had called for a reading of 52.6.
Also, the Chicago Purchasing Management Index, which measures Chicago-area manufacturing activity, jumped in November to a seven-month high of 62.5. Economists had called for a reading of just 60.
On the other hand, S&P/Case-Shiller said its index of home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose just 0.6% in September. Economists had called for a bigger increase of 1.1%.
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) has no indication it is the target of a document dump by WikiLeaks, a source told FOX Business’s Charles Gasparino. The founder of WikiLeaks told Forbes its next document dump could take down a big U.S. bank, but declined to identity which one. WikiLeaks previously said it has several gigabytes of data from a BofA exec’s hard drive.
General Motors (NYSE:GM) announced plans to begin exporting the Chevy Volt late 2011 and plans to hire 1,000 workers to help with the production of the electric car. GM didn’t say which countries it plans to export to, but Europe is an attractive option for the auto maker.
Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) slid as much as 11% after posting a loss of 22 cents a share, widely missing estimates for a loss of just 8 cents a share. Sales jumped to $1.91 billion, but trailed the Street's view of $1.98 billion. Same-store sales slumped 3.3% overall, while sales soared 59% online. Barnes & Noble sees a fiscal third-quarter profit of 90 cents to $1.20 and a fiscal 2011 loss of 75 cents to $1.15.
BP (NYSE:BP) plans to cut up to 10% of its global energy trading staff, Dow Jones Newswires reported. The U.K. oil giant has been selling off some of its assets in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
ABB (NYSE:ABB) unveiled a $3.1 billion deal to acquire U.S. industrial motors maker Baldor Electric (NYSE:BEZ) for a big premium of 41%. Including $1.1 billion of debt, the total deal is worth $4.2 billion.
Merck (NYSE:MRK) tapped Kenneth Frazier as its new CEO starting on January 1. Frazier will replace Richard Clark, who will stay on as chairman. The drug giant had signaled the move when it named Frazier its president.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 dropped 0.41% to 5528.27, France's CAC 40 declined 0.73% to 3610.44 and Germany's DAX fell 0.14% to 6688.49.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.9% to 9937.40, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.68% to 23008.00 and China's Shanghai Composite slid 1.6% to 2820.18.