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US Stocks Open Lower As European Leaders Meet

PALLAVI GOGOI

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Stocks fell on Wall Street Wednesday as leaders of the 27 European Union countries gather in Brussels to debate how best to spur growth there.

Investors' worries over whether European countries can avoid recession overshadowed encouraging news from the U.S. housing market.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 119 points at 12,383 after the first hour of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 11 points at 1,305. The Nasdaq composite index slumped 25 points to 2,815.

The leaders of the 27 countries that make up the European Union are meeting to try and find a way to keep the debt crisis in Europe from spiraling out of control. They are also seeking ways to promote jobs and growth.

The meeting comes a day after the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the 17 countries that use the euro risk falling into a "severe recession."

Political turmoil in Greece is already threatening to pull the euro apart. Borrowing costs are rising for the most indebted governments like Italy and Spain. Worried savers are pulling funds out of banks even as unemployment soars.

The euro was also under pressure, losing 0.3 percent to $1.2630, near a four-month low. Markets fell broadly in Europe. Benchmark indexes in France, Germany and Britain all fell about 2 percent.

Yields on Treasury securities fell as investors shifted money into low-risk investments. The yield on the 10-year note declined to 1.72 percent from 1.77 percent late Tuesday.

Europe's struggles come at a time when Asia too is slowing. China's economic growth fell to a nearly three-year low of 8.1 percent in the first quarter and factory output in April grew at its slowest pace since the 2008 crisis, raising the threat of job losses and possible political tensions.

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