After slipping nearly 200 points, Dow closes down 76

Political uncertainty in debt-hobbled Europe spread to financial markets Tuesday and pushed stocks lower in Europe and the United States.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down almost 200 points at its low point for the day before recovering most of its loss to finish down 76. It was the average’s fifth straight decline.

European indexes closed near their lowest levels in months, and the euro neared a five-month low against the dollar. Prices plummeted for commodities like oil and copper that depend on the health of the world economy. The turmoil in Europe added to concerns about slower economic growth in China and weaker job creation in the U.S.

Trading throughout the markets is growing more volatile as Europe’s debt crisis “accelerates to a point where it’s not really controllable with the sorts of Band-Aids they’ve used,” said Daniel Alpert, managing partner at the investment bank Westwood Capital Partners LLC.

Money flowed into safe investments such as U.S. Treasurys, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 1.85 percent from 1.88 percent late Monday.

Gold fell to a four-month low, dipping below $1,600 per ounce for the first time since early January. Gold often serves as a safe, stable investment to hold in turbulent times. But in periods of rapid selling, investors sometimes sell gold as a ready source of cash.

A flurry of late-day buying helped the indexes recover from their earlier lows. The Dow closed down 76.44 points, or 0.6 percent, at 12,932.09. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 5.86, or 0.4 percent, to 1,363.72. The Nasdaq composite index fell 11.49, or 0.4 percent, to 2,946.27.


State moves up a few spots in business magazine survey

Gov. Paul LePage says the state’s ranking among best states in which to do business has improved in a survey by Chief Executive magazine.

The magazine cited tax cuts as one reason for Maine’s rise to 32.

Maine ranked 36th in the previous year. Maine received two stars in the area of taxation and regulation, four stars in work force quality and four stars in living environment.

LePage said more work must be done, but the survey shows that “we have started to put Maine back on the road to prosperity.”


Bath Iron Works fined for environmental violations

Environmental regulators have fined Bath Iron Works $12,220 for violations of hazardous-waste standards.

Among other things, the shipbuilder failed to keep containers closed, failed to label or mark containers and allowed materials to accumulate for more than 90 days. The problems were uncovered during a regularly scheduled inspection in December.

Shipyard spokesman Jim DeMartini told The Times Record that the “vast majority of items” were resolved within 24 hours. He said new measures ensure that such violations won’t happen again.