Stocks plunge on weak economic news, oil-price swings

(AP) - Weak economic news from China, the U.S. andSpain combined with a slump in oil companies sent stocks sharplylower. The Dow Jones industrial average

NEW YORK - (AP) - Weak economic news from China, the U.S. andSpain combined with a slump in oil companies sent stocks sharplylower. The Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest one-daydrop since August. Investors were jarred Thursday when China reported a surprisetrade deficit. China's exports fell in February as businessesclosed for the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, but imports ofhigher-priced oil and other goods jumped. Moody's downgraded Spain's debt, re-igniting fears aboutEurope's debt crisis. In the U.S., the government reported that newapplications for unemployment benefits rose more than expected lastweek. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 228 points, or 1.9percent, to close at 11,984. The S&P 500 index fell 24, or 1.9percent, to 1,295. The Nasdaq fell 50, or 1.8 percent, to 2,701.

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