Global Growth Worries Weigh on Stocks

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Reports pointing to slowdowns in several important world economies pressured U.S. equities on Monday. Traders also kept a close eye on a meeting between eurozone finance heads.

Today's Markets

As of 3:00 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 19.6 points, or 0.14%, to 13590, the S&P 500 dipped 4.2 points, or 0.29%, to 1457 and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 21.8 points, or 0.7%, to 3114.

The major market averages snapped a two-week losing streak last week, with the broad S&P 500 tacking on 1.4%. The tone was more subdued on Monday.

The World Bank sliced its estimate for economic expansion in Asia for this year to 7.2% from 7.6% when it last reported in May. Growth in China, the world's No. 2 economy, is now expected to come in at 7.7% from 8.2%.

Still, even taking into account the pared back expectations, the Asian economy is growing much faster than many Western economies. In fact, industrial output in Germany cooled down by 0.5% in August from July, a slightly shallower fall than expected, signaling Europe's economic powerhouse is feeling the impact of the eurozone's debt crisis.

Traders were also expected to pay close attention to a meeting of the Eurogroup, which is made up of eurozone finance ministers. The group said the meeting will focus on the banking sector, but analysts are also watching closely for any clues on whether Spain will request official assistance.

U.S. bond markets were closed for the Columbus Day holiday. There were also no economic releases on tap.

On the corporate front, UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) unveiled plans to buy a 90% stake in Amil, Brazil's biggest health-care player, for roughly $4.9 billion. Earnings season unofficially kicks off on Tuesday, when aluminum giant Alcoa (NYSE:AA) posts its quarterly results.

Oil futures continued sliding after falling for the third week in a row last week. The benchmark contract traded in New York dropped 55 cents, or 0.61%, to $89.54 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline skidded lower by 2% to $2.893 a gallon.

In metals, gold dipped $5.10, or 0.29%, to $1,776 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 sold off by 1.4% to 2496, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.5% to 5842 and the German DAX dropped 1.4% to 7291.

In Asia, the Chinese Hang Seng fell 0.89% to 20825. The Tokyo Stock Exchange was closed for the Health-Sports Holiday.