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The blue-chip average slid 107 points on Thursday, falling into the red for the month, as traders fretted about the global economy a day before a highly-anticipated speech from Fed chief Bernanke.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 107 points, or 0.81%, to 13001, the S&P 500 dipped 11 points, or 0.78%, to 1399 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 32.5 points, or 1.1%, to 3045.
The Dow is down by 0.06% for the month, but the broader S&P 500 is still up by 1.5% and the Nasdaq has soared 3.7%.Every Dow component closed in the red besides Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and Merck (NYSE:MRK). The energy, materials and technology sectors posted the biggest losses by a wide margin, but every major sector was in negative territory.
In Europe, traders received data showing confidence in the eurozone fell more than expected while the German economy shed 9,000 jobs. The unemployment rate there remains near post-unification lows, however, and traders remained somewhat hopeful that the country's labor market will hold up despite the debt crisis.
"Economic stagnation in (the second half) should push the number of unemployed slightly higher over coming months but we do not expect a marked deterioration of German labor market conditions unless downside risks to our growth forecast materialize," Thomas Harjes, an analyst at Barclays Capital wrote in a note to clients.
On the American front, new claims for unemployment benefits remained at 374,000 last week from the week prior, according to the Labor Department. Claims were expected to fall to 370,000 from an initially reported 372,000.
The Commerce Department reported personal spending rose 0.4% in July from June, as expected, to the highest level since February. Personal income rose 0.3%, also as expected,.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to speak on Friday at the central bank's economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Traders will be looking for any clues that Bernanke is ready to take more action, including potentially quantitative easing, to boost the flagging economy.
On the corporate front, The Carlyle Group (NYSE:CG) said it will buy DuPont's (NYSE:DD) car paint business for $4.9 billion in cash.
Barclays (NYSE:BCS) tapped Antony Jenkins, the head of its credit card business, to take the chief executive spot. The British Bank is looking to rebound from its Libor scandal.
A slew of big-name retailers also report monthly sales figures on the day.
Commodities market were broadly lower. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York fell 94 cents, or 0.98%, to $94.55 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline sunk 0.57% to $3.083 a gallon.
In metals, gold dipped $5.90, or 0.35%, to $1,657 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 1.3% to 2404, The English FTSE 100 slid 0.42% to 5719 and the German DAX slumped 1.6% to 6895.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 dropped 0.95% to 8934 and the Chinese Hang Seng sold off by 1.2% to 19553.