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Stocks plunge as Italy appears headed for gridlock

National Governors AssociatiVice Chairman Gov. Mary FallOklahomleft with Chairman Gov. Jack Markell Delaware speaks during special sessiNational Governors Associati2013 Winter

National Governors Association Vice Chairman Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, left, with Chairman Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware, speaks during a special session of the National Governors Association 2013 Winter Meeting in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. Governors Sunday roundly condemned the automatic budget cuts set to take hold this week, and hoped for a deal to stave off the $85 billion reduction in government services. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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Updated: February 25, 2013 3:13PM



Stocks dropped sharply as investors worry that Italy could be seized with political paralysis, stymieing the country’s economic reforms and causing another flare-up in the region’s debt crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 216 points to 13,784 Monday, a loss of 1.6 percent and the biggest drop since November.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 27 points, or 1.8 percent, to 1,487. The Nasdaq lost 45 points to 3,116.

An early gain was gone by midday after reports from Italy suggested that the country was headed for political gridlock following strong gains by former premier Silvio Berlusconi and a protest campaign led by a former comedian.

Four stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was average, 3.8 billion shares.



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