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) --

General Electric

(GE) - Get General Electric Company Report

shares fell Thursday as a measure of skepticism about the company's plans to sell a majority stake in NBC Universal to


(CMCSA) - Get Comcast Corporation Class A Report

filtered out of Washington.

Another factor was surely the

broad weakness

in U.S. stocks amid disappointing initial jobless claims data and growing concerns about global debt, especially the situations in certain European countries.

The stock finished down 3.8% at $16.04 on volume of more than 108 million, exceeding by roughly 48% the issue's trailing three-month daily average of 73.2 million. The selling follows a strong start to 2010 for GE shares, which crested above $17 during Wednesday's session for the first time since late September. Based on Wednesday's close at $16.68, the stock was up more than 10% so far this year. The session low for Thursday was $16.01.

Executives from

Comcast and NBC Universal

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appeared on Capitol Hill Thursday to discuss the deal, looking to assuage lawmaker concerns about potential impact of Comcast's ownership on pricing and competition within the cable industry. Media reports on the hearings indicated House Democrats expressed reservations about the deal.

The proposed deal, which values NBC Universal at $30 billion and is expected to generate cash proceeds of roughly $6.5 billion for GE, is currently being reviewed by government authorities, including the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, for antitrust implications.

The joint venture agreement struck on Dec. 3 calls for Comcast to manage an NBC Universal entity consisting of the assets contributed by GE and its own cable networks, regional sports networks and certain other businesses.

GE was one of the bigger decliners in the Dow, although the vast majority of the blue-chip index was lower on Thursday with 29 of its 30 components in negative territory at midday.

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

, which reported its

quarterly results

before the opening bell was the lone advancer.

Other big losers from among the blue chips included


(AA) - Get Alcoa Corporation Report


Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report



(HPQ) - Get HP Inc. Report



(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report

, and


(MMM) - Get 3M Company Report

; all down more than 3 percent in recent trades.


Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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