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NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market suffered its worst loss of the year Tuesday because of uncertainty about coming corporate earnings reports and concerns that the borrowing costs of Spain are creeping close to a crisis level.
The decline extended the longest and deepest slump of the year for Wall Street to five days. More than half the first-quarter gain of the Dow Jones industrial average has been wiped out, and more than a third for the Standard & Poor’s 500.
The Dow fell 213.66 points, its third triple-digit loss in four days. It closed at 12,715.93, its lowest since Feb. 2.
The dollar and U.S. Treasury prices rose as investors shifted money into lower-risk investments. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell for the fifth straight day and dropped below 2 percent for the first time in a month.
After the market closed, Alcoa reported much better quarterly earnings than Wall Street expected, providing hope that the losing streak might end. Alcoa is the first of the 30 stocks in the Dow to report results.
“Hopefully this would change the tone for the market for the next couple of days, but a lot can happen overseas overnight. That’s the big unknown,” said Colleen Supran, a principal at the investment adviser Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough in San Francisco.
Alcoa, which sells aluminum and is watched as a barometer of the global economy, reported a quarterly profit of 9 cents per share. Analysts were expecting a loss of 4 cents.
After nine consecutive quarters of earnings growth, analysts think earnings will be flat this time. Those predictions came before Alcoa’s impressive results, however.
While Wall Street was still sleeping, European markets sold off. The main stock indexes in Spain and France closed down about 3 percent, the equivalent of a 400-point drop in the Dow.
The yield on 10-year Spanish bonds rose to almost 6 percent. Seven percent is generally considered the level at which governments can no longer afford to raise money on the international bond markets.
The 7 percent level forced Greece, the last focal point of the European debt crisis, to seek rescue loans. But Spain is widely considered too big to bail out: It makes up about 11 percent of the economic output of the countries that use the euro currency. Greece makes up about 2 percent.
The first three months of this year were the best for stocks since 1998, but investors have found plenty to fret about in April.
The losing streak began last Tuesday, when the Federal Reserve said it was worried about the strength of job growth and suggested it was not inclined to provide further help for the economy.
The Dow fell 204 points in three days. It fell 131 more on Monday, the first time investors could react to a report showing much weaker job growth in March than in the three previous months.
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