Markets closed down today:
▼ Dow: -0.93 percent
▼ Nasdaq: -1.37 percent
▼ S&P: -1.01 percent
▲ Gold: up +0.19 percent to $1,583.60 an ounce
▲ Silver: up +0.23 percent to settle at $27.27
▼ Oil: -1.27 percent
Market closed up because:
For the past few days, the U.S. stock market was able to forget about problems in Europe.
Friday put Europe squarely back in the spotlight.
U.S. stocks fell sharply as escalating problems in Spain jolted investors. Spain's stock market plunged 6 percent and its borrowing costs spiked after a regional government asked for a financial lifeline.
The drop on Wall Street, which sent the Dow Jones industrial average down as much as 133 points, marked a U-turn for the market. Stocks had risen over the past three days as investors focused on healthy earnings from U.S. companies like Mattel, Honeywell and Coca-Cola.
On Friday, talk of sluggishness in Europe was prevalent as more companies turned in their quarterly results.
Late Thursday, guitar maker Fender abruptly canceled its plans to go public, blaming "current market conditions" and "concerns about economic conditions in Europe." And General Electric, though its stock rose slightly, noted Friday that its orders also fell in Europe.
Even the Internet powerhouse Google noted that growth in Southern Europe had slowed, particularly in Spain. But Google also reported higher revenue and profit, and its stock rose 3 percent.
All the major U.S. stock indexes fell. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 120.79 points to 12,822.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 13.85 to 1,362.66. The Nasdaq composite index lost 40.60 to 2,925.30. All three indicators were down about 1 percent. They eked out tiny gains for the week and are about flat for the month to date.
The broad downturn was an unwelcome change after three days of gains, the Dow's longest winning streak in more than a month. Until Friday, investors focused on upbeat earnings from U.S. companies. Nearly three-fourths of the companies that have reported second-quarter earnings so far have beat expectations, according to FactSet.
Spain was the epicenter of the latest European earthquake. Protestors took to the streets to voice their disapproval of government spending cuts. The Treasury minister predicted that the recession would drag on into next year. And the region of Valencia said it needed help from the central government to pay its bills.
Spain did get approval from the other euro countries for a bailout for its struggling banks, but that wasn't enough to calm investors. The Spanish government's borrowing costs shot above 7 percent, meaning the country could soon find itself unable to afford to borrow money. Spain's benchmark stock index plunged 6 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.