US stocks follow global markets lower

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NEW YORK (AP) — It's far from a happy new year on Wall Street, where stocks have been sharply lower in early trading. The Dow was down by more than 400 points about a half-hour into the trading day.

Earlier today, China's main index fell seven percent, forcing an emergency trading suspension. The fall was triggered by weak Chinese manufacturing data.

European indexes have been down by two to four percent.

Chinese authorities have been trying for months to restore confidence in the country's stocks. A plunge in June rattled global markets and prompted a multibillion-dollar government intervention. Concerns about China's economic slowdown were revived by the weak manufacturing data released today.

Adding to the jitters today are Middle East tensions, which pushed up oil prices. Saudi Arabia said yesterday it is severing diplomatic relations with Iran, a development that could potentially threaten oil supplies.

The price of benchmark U.S. crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange is up by about a dollar a barrel, or nearly three percent.

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170-r-13-(Sound of the opening bell at the New York Stock exchange, at the start of today's trading)--Sound of the opening bell at the New York Stock exchange at the start of today's trading. (4 Jan 2016)

<<CUT *170 (01/04/16)££ 00:13

APPHOTO XAW104: An investor places her leg on a bench near an electronic board displaying stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. Shanghai's stock index plunged nearly 7 percent on Monday, sparking a halt in trading of Chinese shares, after weak manufacturing data and Middle East tensions weighed on Asian markets. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) (4 Jan 2016)

<<APPHOTO XAW104 (01/04/16)££

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