NEW YORK

Stocks fall, sending S&P down for sixth straight day

Stocks slumped Wednesday, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down for a sixth straight day, as the cost of insuring European government debt against default rose to a record on concern the region’s crisis is worsening.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 26.25, or 2.2 percent, to 1,161.79, the lowest since Oct. 7. It lost 7.6 percent in six days, the most since Aug. 10. The Dow fell 236.17 points, or 2.1 percent, to close at 11,257.55. About 6.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 16 percent below the three-month average. The market is closed today, and trading will end at 1 p.m. on Friday.

The Nasdaq fell 61.20, or 2.4 percent, to 2,460.08.

“It’s the unknown in capital letters,” said David Sowerby, a portfolio manager at Loomis Sayles. “It’s about Europe’s likely recession, the unknown of what’s the contagion, slower China. That’s winning a tug-of-war against U.S. stock valuations.”

About $1 trillion has been erased from U.S. market value since Nov. 15 amid concern that Europe’s debt crisis will hamper the global economy. The S&P 500 is trading for 12.2 times reported earnings, compared with its average since 1954 of 16.4 times, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

LONDON

James Murdoch resigns as head of newspaper company

News International executive James Murdoch has resigned as a director of the companies that publish The Sun and The Times of London newspapers, the company confirmed Wednesday.

Murdoch quit the board of News Group Newspapers Ltd. and Times Newspapers Ltd. after the appointment of Tom Mockridge as News International CEO in September, the company said in a statement.

News Group Newspapers publishes The Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling tabloid, and until July published the News of the World tabloid, the country’s top-selling Sunday paper. Times Newspapers is responsible for the Times and the Sunday Times.

Murdoch, who denies knowledge of wrongdoing in the hacking scandal, remains chairman of News International, the British arm of his father Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. He also remains a director of the Times Newspapers Holdings Ltd., a holding company of Times Newspapers.

HELSINKI, Finland

Nokia plans to cut nearly a quarter of its work force

Wireless equipment maker Nokia Siemens Networks will slash 17,000 jobs — almost one-quarter of its work force — in a move to cut annual costs by 1 billion euros by 2013, company officials said Wednesday.

The joint venture between Finland’s Nokia Corp. and Siemens AG of Germany said it would focus on mobile broadband networks and services as it slims down with a view to becoming an independent company.

Nokia Siemens has struggled to make a profit amid stiff competition in the global market for network infrastructure — the technology and services needed to run mobile and fixed-line networks.

– From news service reports