Dow posts loss after release of pair of economic reports

NEW YORK – The Dow Jones industrial average posted its 11th loss in 12 days after a pair of discouraging economic reports unnerved investors already worried about a possible exit from the euro by Greece.

The Dow lost 156.06 points to close at 12,442.49. It’s now down 6 percent for the month so far and could be headed for its first losing month since September. The two-week slump represents a sharp turn downturn since May 1, when the index closed at a four-year high.

The slide, which is largely due to escalating worries about a breakup of the European currency union, has stripped the Dow of much of this year’s gains. As of the beginning of May, it was up 8.7 percent for the year; now, it’s up just 1.8 percent.

“Europe is very much on investors’ minds,” said Brian Gendreau, market strategist at broker-dealer Cetera Financial Group.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 19.94 points to 1,304.86, its lowest close since Jan. 17. The Nasdaq composite fell 60.35 points to 2,813.69.

The Conference Board said its measure of future U.S. economic growth fell in April after six months of increases. The drop came from fewer requests for building permits and a spike in applications for unemployment benefits.

Sixteen Spanish banks have ratings lowered by Moody’s

Moody’s Investors Service is downgrading the ratings of 16 Spanish banks because of the country’s worsening financial picture.

Moody’s lowered its rating by one to three notches on the long-term debt and deposit ratings for 16 Spanish banks and one U.K. subsidiary Thursday.

Moody’s said it took the action because the banks face a rising tide of bad loans with Spain’s economy in recession, its real estate market a shambles and its unemployment rate stubbornly high. Spain’s banking sector is further threatened by its exposure to the Eurozone debt crisis.

The ratings on the banks now range from low-end investment grade to the high-end of junk status. The country’s bank ratings are below most Western European banking systems.

Comcast will charge extra for exceeding data limit

NEW YORK – Comcast Corp., the country’s largest Internet service provider, will start charging extra when customers go over a certain monthly data limit.

That limit, however, is high, starting at 300 gigabytes for basic Internet plans. Only 1 percent of U.S. Internet users use that much data in a month, according to a measurement firm.

Comcast Corp. said Thursday that it will test charging $10 for every 50 gigabytes over that limit.

Comcast has previously limited use to 250 gigabytes per month, but hasn’t charged those who exceed that limit. Instead, it’s warned them, and threatened repeat offenders with cancellation of their service.

Other home Internet service providers such as Time Warner Cable and AT&T have experimented with lower data caps and charges for going over limits, but abandoned those after meeting fierce resistance from consumers and politicians.

Internet service providers say they need to have some sort of cap to prevent “data hogs” from slowing down service for everyone.

— From news service reports