Stocks plunge again

Published: Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

NEW YORK - Wall Street plunged again Friday amid renewed fears that the financial sector's troubles with bad credit won't soon end and that some consumers are buckling under the weight of a slowing economy.

The major indexes each lost more than 1 percent, including the Dow Jones industrials, which finished down nearly 250 points.

The arrival of quarterly earnings reports has investors worried about how banks and brokerages have fared after suffering losses in the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Traders appeared to grow more pessimistic ahead of reports due next week from the nation's biggest financial institutions. Merrill Lynch & Co., Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are slated to weigh in next week.

Investors also grew nervous after American Express Corp. warned that slower spending and more delinquencies on credit card payments will hamper profit throughout 2008.

"When Amex comes out and says that some of their well-to-do cardholders are having problems making payments that's just not good news," said Brandon Thomas, chief investment officer of Portfolio Management Consultants.

The Dow fell 246.79, or 1.92 percent, to 12,606.30. The Dow had been down more than 300 points in the final hour.

Broader stock indicators also declined. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 19.31, or 1.36 percent, to 1,401.02, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 48.58, or 1.95 percent, to 2,439.94..

The Dow is down 4.96 percent for the year, the S&P is off 4.59 percent, and the Nasdaq has lost 8.01 percent.

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