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Dow drops 280, barely in black for ’15

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Dow drops 280, barely in black for ’15

Stocks took a pounding Friday as the Greece financial crisis re-entered investors’ radar and Asian markets recoiled from a regulatory move in China. The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 1.5%, or 280 points. The blue-chip index had earlier dropped more than 300 points to dip into the red for 2015 but is now barely in the black for the calendar year.USA - Business - Dow Jones Sign

The Nasdaq composite finished down 1.5% and the S&P 500 closed 1.1% lower. Europe markets saw steep declines on Greece jitters, with Germany’s DAX tumbling 2.6% — 310 points. France’s CAC 40 sank 1.6%, while the FTSE in Britain finished down 0.9%. The Stoxx Europe 600 index, a continent-wide gauge, fell 1.8%. Greece isn’t winning much sympathy from its debt-wracked European counterparts as the country draws closer to default for failing to make bailout repayments.

“We are not sympathetic to Greece,” French Finance Minister Michael Sapin said in an interview at the International Monetary Fund-World Bank spring meetings in Washington. Futures markets in Asia plummeted after Chinese regulators announced a ban on the use of certain types of equities financing The announcement from the China Securities Regulatory Commission came after the close of markets in Asia. The agencymoved to clamp down on the margin trading businesses of financial brokerages that use so-called umbrella trusts, Bloomberg reported. On the domestic front, rising gas prices spurred a slight, 0.2% increase in inflation in March. That matched the rate of the previous month, Labor department figures show. Consumer confidence in April hit the second-highest level in more than eight years, Bloomberg reports, citing the University of Michigan gauge of Americans’ views on the economy.

In China, the umbrella trusts allow traders to secure more financing for stock purchases than ordinarily permitted by regulators. At the same time, the Securities Association of China said fund managers can lend shares for short selling. Chinese stock futures fell 5% on the announcement. The decision to ban highly leveraged stock purchases comes as stock markets in China have been trading at multi-year highs and amid rising fears of a market bubble. The Shanghai Composite is up 30% since the start of the year. On Friday, the index added another 2% to 4, 287.30.

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