Stocks fall over European debt fear

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The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 19 at 11,458

Early gains in the stock market evaporated after worries about Europe’s debt crisis overshadowed signs of growth in the US Bond prices fell, sending long-term interest rates higher again.

The euro fell 1.2% against the dollar after Moody’s said that it may lower Spain’s credit rating. The stronger dollar hurts US companies that do a lot of business overseas. The Standard& Poor’s 500 index, the broadest measure of large U.S. companies, fell 0.5%.

Stock prices started the day higher after reports showed that US manufacturing industry is growing and inflation remains under control. The Federal Reserve said US factory output rose for the fifth straight month in November. A separate report showed that consumer prices stayed flat last month.

In the late afternoon, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a $858 billion package that will extend tax cuts passed during the Bush administration for another two years. The measure now goes to the House, where it is expected to pass despite complaints by Democrats over what they see as overly generous estate tax rates for the rich.

The unfinished tax bill made some investors pause. “No one is going to make any major planning decisions until this bill gets passed,” said Tim Speiss, a partner at EisenAmper LLP, a financial planning firm. “I’m working with a lot of companies who are postponing deals until they know what the tax rates will be.”

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 19.07 or 0.2%, to 11,457.47.

The broader Standard&Poor’s 500 index fell 6.36, or 0.5%, to 1,235.23.

The Nasdaq composite index fell 10.5, or 0.4%, to 2,617.22.

Coca Cola rose 1.3% to lead the 30 stocks that make up the Dow index. Alcoa, which fell 1.7%, was the worst performing stock in the index.

Consumer staples companies were the only one of the 10 groups that make up the S&P 500 index to rise.

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