Dow heading toward first triple-digit decline of the year

Concerns about slowing global growth sent the stock market down hard early Tuesday -- putting the Dow Jones industrial average on a path toward its first triple-digit decline of the year.

The sell-off was driven partly by data showing that Europe’s economy contracted 0.3% in the fourth quarter, renewing fears that lingering troubles on the continent still have the potential to spread throughout the global economy.

That was exacerbated by uncertainty over a proposed restructuring of Greek debt that is scheduled for this week. Private investors are deciding whether to take part in a voluntary exchange of debt in which they would write off more than half the face value of their Greek fixed-income holdings.

Many professional investors say the market is susceptible to at least a short-term downturn after a powerful rally over the last five months that had carried the Dow past 13,000. Despite generally upbeat U.S. economic news, concern has grown that stocks have gotten ahead of themselves.


As of 7 a.m. PST, the Dow, which suffered its last triple-digit decline in late December, was off 144.97 points, or 1.1%, to 12,817.84. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gave up 16.54 points, or 1.2%, to 1,347.79.


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