Stocks fall as Ukraine tensions rise; Gold gains

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NEW YORK (AP) - Global stocks fell sharply on rising tension over Russia's military advance into Ukraine and the threat of possible sanctions by Western governments. Treasurys and gold prices rose as investors bought safer assets.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 16 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,843 as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 158 points, or 1 percent, to 16,163. The Nasdaq composite dropped 46 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,260.

WORLD MARKETS: Markets fell even more sharply in Europe. Germany's DAX sank or 2.8 percent to 9,424. Britain's FTSE 100 dropped or 1.4 percent to 6,720 and Russia's benchmark stock index plunged 12 percent to 1,115.

SAFETY FIRST: Gold and bond prices rose as investors put money into safer assets. The price of gold gained $25.90, or 2 percent, to $1,347.50. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.62 percent from 2.65 percent late Friday.

ENERGY PRICES: The price of crude oil climbed $2.05, or 2 percent, to $104.64 a barrel following warnings by Washington and other governments that Russia, a major oil exporter, might face sanctions after it seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. The energy sector was the only one of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 to advance.

CONFIDENCE AT HOME: The tensions in the Ukraine outweighed positive reports on the U.S. economy. U.S. manufacturing expanded at faster pace in February as new orders and stockpiling rose.

Americans spent more in January, but the increase came from a surge in spending on heating bills during the harsh winter. Spending in areas such as autos and clothing declined. Spending rose 0.4 percent in January after a 0.1 percent gain in December the Commerce Department said Monday. The December figure was revised down from a 0.4 percent increase.

IT'S COLD OUTSIDE: Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden, slumped $2.26, or 4.4 percent, to $48.80 after the restaurant operator said that exceptionally rough winter weather reduced earnings in its latest quarter by about 7 cents per share. Expenses related to the company's plan to split off its Red Lobster chain also hurt earnings.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Steve Rothwell


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