Stocks Drop on Europe Worries, Bernanke

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks finished deep in the red on Thursday, driven lower by a rekindling of worries about Europe's debt crisis and uneasiness about an upcoming speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

An elevated weekly initial jobless claims report also took a bite out investor risk appetite, pushing the safe-haven benchmark 10-year Treasury up 7/32, diluting the yield to 1.632%. The greenback rose 0.19%, according to the dollar index.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped nearly 107 points, or 0.81%, to close at 13,000.71. Earlier in the session, the blue-chip index scraped a low of 12,979, dipping below the 13,000 mark on an intraday basis for the first time since Aug. 3.

Twenty-eight of the Dow's 30 components finished with losses The biggest percentage decliners were Caterpillar ( CAT), Cisco ( CSCO), Intel ( INTC).

The S&P 500 sank 11 points, or 0.78%, to settle at 1399.48, its first close below 1400 since Aug. 6.

The Nasdaq took the biggest hit, surrendering more than 32 points, or 1.05%, to finish at 3049.

The weakest sectors in the broad market were basic materials, capital goods, conglomerates, energy and technology.

Decliners outpaced advancers by a more than 2-to-1 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange and a 3-to-1 ratio on Nasdaq. Volume totaled 2.45 billion on the Big Board and 1.22 billion on the Nasdaq.

The latest data on weekly initial claims was disheartening ahead of the August jobs report, which is due next Friday. First-time filers totaled 374,000 for the week ended Aug. 25, the highest level in a month and above the consensus view of 370,000. Continuing claims for the week ended Aug. 18 fell 5,000 to 3.32 million.

"Nonfarm payrolls due next Friday is currently predicted to show a gain of just 115,000 fresh hires and the pace of improvement in the weekly initial claims series seems insufficiently strong to argue against that reading at this time," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that personal income increased 0.3% in July after rising 0.3% in June. Personal spending rose 0.4% after coming in basically flat the prior month. Economists had expected that personal income would rise in July by 0.3% and that spending rose 0.4%.

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