Stocks Drop, Hurt by Worries Over U.S. and European Economies

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks fell Thursday as a troubling outlook for Europe's economy and signs of a slowdown in the U.S. spread pessimism.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended Thursday down 45.56 points, or 0.4%, to 12,898.26. The index traded in a tight range of 12,852 at its lowest and 12,961 at its highest.

The S&P 500 fell 6.44 points, or 0.5%, to 1,367.58. The Nasdaq ended Thursday flat at 2,976.12.

Holding the Nasdaq up were shares of tech heavyweight Apple ( AAPL), which ended the day up 1.8% to $609.94. There were reports that the company will soon be producing a new version of its iPad with a 7-inch screen.

Gainers and laggards on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were about even with a slight lean toward the negative on thin trading volumes.

In other tech news, Research In Motion ( RIMM) advanced 4.6% to $7.69 amid short covering, and Netflix ( NFLX) surged 13% to $81.72 after a BTIG analyst said the company's online audience surpassed that of cable and TV networks, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was upbeat about subscriber growth.

The sectors with the biggest losses Thursday were energy and financials. The only sector that closed up Thursday was consumer cyclical.

Of the 30 components on the Dow, 22 ended Thursday with losses, led by JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Bank of America ( BAC).

"The reason for the declines has more to do with Mario Draghi's declining opinion on the future of the European economy; also there's a sense of desperation in some of this activity today and I think investors are beginning to see this as ... getting to the last resort when it comes to using interest-rate cuts to solve their problems," said Jeffrey Sica, president at Sica Wealth Management.

He added: "It does get to a point when you start to see economic reports that don't improve significantly, but don't decline significantly enough to justify economic stimulus -- it leaves investors, first off, worried that there's not going to be enough liquidity to push prices up, and secondly, that we're going to be in this constant stalemate with a horrendous economy not improving ... and that stalemate is what people fear the most."

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