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Plunging commodities prices drag stocks lower

In this Friday, April 12, 2013, photo Trader Lewis Vande Pallen, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. World stock markets mostly sank Monday April 15, 2013 as China's slower-than-expected economic growth and disappointing U.S. retail sales weighed on investor sentiment. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- A steep fall in commodity prices pulled down energy and mining stocks for a second day in a row on Monday.

Gold plunged below $1,400 an ounce for the first time in two years as a sell-off in metals continued from last week. A slowdown in China also pushed down the price of copper, and the price of crude oil hit its lowest level since mid-December.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 68 points at 14,796 shortly before midday Monday, a drop of 0.6 percent. Caterpillar led the Dow lower.

Mining stocks fell sharply. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold lost 7 percent.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 10 points to 1,578, a loss of 0.6 percent. The Nasdaq composite fell 22 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,272.