After tough January, stocks extend slide

Sluggish growth adds to worries

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U.S. stocks tumbled on Monday, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 320 points after reports of sluggish U.S. growth added to investor worries about the global economy. The slump follows the Dow's worst January performance since 2009.

The market stumbled from the get-go, with U.S. markets opening lower after declines in European and Japanese indexes. Then it quickly turned into a slide as a spate of discouraging economic data on everything from manufacturing to auto sales to construction spending poured in.

By late afternoon, the sell-off accelerated further, bringing the Dow down more than 7 percent for the year. The S&P 500 index was down more than 5 percent on the year.

Education Management was the hardest hit among regional stocks, falling 7 percent. The Downtown for-profit educator closed at $6.42, down 51 cents.

Other local shares that fell the most on a percentage basis included 3-D printing concern ExOne Company, down $2.95 to $44.11; Cranberry safety products maker MSA, off $3.07 to $47.31; Indiana, Pa., banker S&T Bancorp, which fell $1.32 to $22.07; and specialty metals producer Allegheny Technologies, which shed $1.58 to close at $29.86.

WVS Financial, the parent of West View Savings Bank, was the only company in the 57-stock Post-Gazette/Bloomberg index of regional stocks to gain ground. It advanced 35 cents to close at $12.17.

Some stock watchers took the market's decline in stride. They considered it a necessary recalibration following the market's record highs at the end of last year.

"It's a bit painful for investors to see the equities markets drop as they have, but this is healthy for this market," said Chris Gaffney, a senior market strategist at EverBank. "We've been almost 2 1/2 years without a 10 percent correction. So we're still in that healthy correction, if you will."

All told, the Dow tumbled 326.05 points, or 2.1 percent, to 15,372.80. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 40.70 points, or 2.3 percent, to 1,741.89. The Nasdaq composite dropped 106.92 points, or 2.6 percent, to 3,996.96.

Staffing company Robert Half International fell the most among stocks in the S&P 500 index. CarMax and Pfizer were among the few stocks to eke out gains on the day.

"Investors had expectations going into 2014 of a much stronger U.S. economic recovery than actually what we're seeing, and we've had to reset our expectations," Mr. Gaffney said.

Fresh signs of weakness in China also weighed on the minds of investors. An official Chinese manufacturing survey released over the weekend showed factory output grew at a slower rate in January compared with December in the world's second-largest economy.

Investors have been looking for more pullbacks this year and possibly a correction, the technical term for when a stock market index like the S&P 500 falls 10 percent or more.

"I think we are in correction phase, and the bias will be to the downside for a while longer," said Frank Davis, director of trading at LEK Securities. "It would make sense to see a healthy pullback after last year. Air has to come out of the market."

All 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index fell, and telecommunications stocks posted the biggest declines, weighed down by AT&T and Verizon Communications.

Mattel fell $1.79, or 4.7 percent, to $36.05. The world's largest maker of toys reported Friday that sales of Barbie and Fisher-Price preschool items dropped in its fourth quarter.

Also among the decliners: Jos. A Bank Clothiers, which fell $2.83, or 5 percent, to $53.39 on continued doubts that a takeover bid by rival clothier Men's Wearhouse will go through.

A few stocks posted gains.

Pfizer rose 20 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $30.60, after the company reported that a midstage study of an experimental drug for advanced breast cancer met the main goals. The drug is seen as a potential huge seller. Pfizer was the only stock to rise among the 30 members of the Dow.

Facing lower stocks and global jitters, investors moved into the relative safety of U.S. government bonds. Bond prices rose, and the yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.58 percent from 2.65 percent Friday.


Alex Veiga of The Associated Press and Len Boselovic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette contributed to this report.

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