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Stocks Tumble 2% After Gold, Commodities Plunge

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks were under heavy selling pressure today following the lead from plummeting commodities prices. Tech stocks lead the losses with the Nasdaq falling 2.4% to 3,216. The Dow fell 1.79% to 14,599 and the S&P 500 fell 2.32% to 1,552.

It was a historically awful day for gold as the precious metal plunged further into bear market territory. Prices fell $140.30 an ounce, or 9.3% to $1,361.10. This was the largest single day percentage drop since 1983. The dollar drop is the steepest since 1980 and its second largest in history. Today's losses were pegged to data which show China's economy is not growing as fast as expected. That led to concerns that both China and India may slow their gold purchases.

Dish Network (DISH) and Sprint Nextel (S) moved in opposite directions on news the satellite TV provider is making a bid for the cell carrier. Dish closed lower by over 2%, while Sprint jumped 14%. Dish is offering $25.5 billion, trying to trump an existing offer from Softbank of Japan. Dish CEO Charles Ergen has been trying to move his company from the slow-growing pay TV business into wireless.

Citigroup (C) shares were up 3% in early trading before giving up those gains to close up 0.2%. The company posted quarterly earnings per share of $1.23, beating estimates by 6-cents. Net income rose 30% over last year, however the company is warning of headwinds in both the U.S. and key markets overseas. This is the first full quarter under new CEO Mike Corbat. He replaced Vikram Pandit who stepped down under pressure from the bank's board.

Life Technologies (LIFE) rose 7.5% on news that Thermo Fisher (TMO) is now nearing a deal to acquire the company. This deal has been in the works for quite some time, but last Wednesday it appeared an alliance including Blackstone Group and Carlyle Group would try to outbid Thermo Fisher. That proposal never seemed to materialize. Life Tech rose nearly 2% on Friday ahead of today's announcement. It has been setting a series of 52-week highs.

Boeing (BA) descended today from its 52-week high, closing lower by 2.3%. The FAA is ordering inspections on more than 1,000 of the company's newer 737s. The agency is responding to reports that an anti-corrosion layer was not applied correctly to pins used on movable tail panels. If the problem is not fixed it could conceivably cause a pilot to lose control of a plane. Boeing has had its share of troubles this year, with the Dreamliner 787 still grounded. Still the company stock has been weathering the problems quite well.