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The Associated Press April 18, 2011, 11:50AM ET

Stocks sink after S&P issues warning on US debt

Stocks are sharply lower after Standard & Poor's issued a warning on U.S. government debt. Fears about Europe's debt problems are also pushing markets lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average is down 210 points, or 1.7 percent, to 12,131 in midday trading Monday.

The S&P 500 is down 20, or 1.5 percent, to 1,299. The Nasdaq composite is down 49, or 1.8 percent, to 2,715.

S&P reaffirmed the U.S. government credit rating at the highest level but said that it could lower the rating in the future if budget deficits aren't brought under control.

In Europe, Spain had to pay a much higher interest rate on new debt; there was speculation of a possible default by Greece and a nationalist party in Finland made big gains in an election Sunday.

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