Major stock indexes drop; oil and gas prices decline

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 133.25 points, or 0.9 percent, to 15,168.01. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 12.08 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,698.06. The Nasdaq composite fell 21.26 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,794.01.Benchmark crude for November delivery fell $1.20 to close at $101.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the benchmark used to set prices for international crudes used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.08 to $109.96 on the ICE futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline slipped 1 cent to $2.66 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3 cents to $3.79 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $3.02 a gallon.

Fast-food worker families costing U.S. $7 billion in aid

More than half of fast-food workers’ families receive some sort of public assistance, costing the nation $7 billion a year, according to a new report distributed by a group that has been pushing for union representation and higher wages for fast-food workers.

Fast-food workers earn an average of $8.69 an hour, and often work fewer than 40 hours a week, qualifying them for food stamps, Medicaid and tax credits, according to the report, which was written by economists at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The report calculates that about $3.9 billion a year is spent on Medicaid and children’s health care for fast-food workers and their families. Families also receive $1.04 billion in food stamp benefits and $1.91 billion from the federal government through the earned income tax credit.

Fitch places credit rating of U.S. on negative watch

The Fitch credit rating agency has warned that it is reviewing the U.S. government’s AAA credit rating for a possible downgrade, citing Thursday’s looming deadline to increase the nation’s borrowing limit.

Fitch has placed the U.S. credit rating on negative watch, a step that would precede an actual downgrade.

Yahoo’s latest forecast shows advertising struggle

Yahoo forecast fourth-quarter sales that trailed analysts’ estimates as it struggles to attract advertising dollars under CEO Marissa Mayer.

Revenue, excluding sales passed to partner sites, will be $1.18 billion to $1.22 billion in the current quarter, Yahoo said Tuesday. Analysts had been expecting revenue of $1.25 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, Yahoo is generating earnings from its stake of about 24 percent in Alibaba Group Holding, China’s largest e-commerce company.