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Newhampshire News Online

Stocks drop for 3rd day: Dow down about 230

Stocks drop for 3rd day: Dow down about 230

Stocks fell for a third straight day Wednesday as the Dow plunged about 230 points and turned negative for the year. The drop comes amid a disappointing manufacturing report and news of a mega-merger between two food icons. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 1.3%, and was on track for its worst point-loss since a 333-point drop on March 10.New-York-Stock-Exchange-market-has-wild-ride

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 1.1%. Technology was the hardest hit sector of the 10 S&P 500 sectors. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index plunged 2%. Weighing on stocks was a government report that orders for durable goods tumbled a larger-than-expected 1.4% in February. It was the third drop in the past four months for orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting goods.

Weak economic data could weigh on corporate earnings, a key underpinning of rising stock prices. The wild point swing experienced by the Dow today, however, is not a new development, as daily swings have gotten more dramatic in March. The blue chip index is on track for its 14th session of gains or losses of 100 points or more out of 18 trading days this month.

Investors are still adjusting to the idea that interest rates will be moving up at some point this year. The price moves today and for most of this week, however, have come amid light trading volume, which allows prices to fluctuate more dramatically. News of a merger between H.J. Heinz and Kraft Foods Group that will form the fifth largest food and beverage firm in the world sent shares of Kraft soaring more than 34%. The combined company will have approximately $28 billion in revenue and will hold a portfolio of iconic food brands including Heinz, Kraft, Oscar Mayer, Ore-Ida and Philadelphia. Other food stocks got a boost as well: General Mills rose 1.4% and Kellogg gained 1%. Energy stocks rose as oil prices rebounded. U.S. benchmark crude rose $1.43 to $48.94 a barrel.

Overseas, European stocks were lower as Britain’s FTSE 100 index dropped 0.4% and Germany’s DAX index fell 1.2%. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.5%. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.8%.