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Stocks Log Worst Drop in a Month, S&P Below 1400
CNBC.com | April 04, 2012 | 04:56 PM EDT

Meanwhile, the service sector expanded at a slightly slower pace than expected in March at 56.0, according to the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index. Economists had expected a reading of 57.0.

Adding to woes, Spanish borrowing costs jumped at its bond auction, fueling worries in other European markets and overshadowing a successful step back into debt markets by neighboring Portugal.

The ECB kept interest rates at a record low of 1 percent. In addition, ECB President Mario Draghi said in a news conference that inflation is likely to stay above the 2 percent target for the year, but said talk of an exit was premature.

Commodities also declined sharply across the board with gold trading near three-month lowsand crude oil hitting a six-week low.

GE slipped after Moody's downgraded the ratings of both the conglomerate and its finance unit, GE Capital by a notch, citing risks in the funding model. GE is the minority shareholder of NBCUniversal.

AIG climbed after Bernstein upgraded the insurer to "outperform" from "market perform," citing positive catalysts including final asset sales and government exit by year-end.

SanDisk tumbled to lead the S&P 500 laggards after the chipmaker warned that revenue and margins were being hurt due to weak demand from mobile phone manufacturers and a glut in supply. Rivals Micron and Broadcom also slumped.

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