* Wal-Mart shares off after bribery report
* European factories post worst month in nearly 4 years
* Indexes down: Dow 0.8 pct, S&P 500 0.8 pct, Nasdaq 1 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, April 23 U.S. stocks fell on Monday as
political turmoil in Europe cast doubts on the euro zone's
ability to push through measures to end its debt crisis and as
Wal-Mart sank following a report it stymied a bribery probe.
The Dutch prime minister tendered his government's
resignation on Monday after Dutch officials failed to agree on
budget cuts. Adding to the uncertainty was a Sunday vote in
France that threw the presidential race wide open.
The renewed worries came as the euro zone's business slump
deepened at a far faster pace than expected in April.
The Markit PMI fell to a five-month low,
confounding forecasts for a rise.
Europe's debt crisis has been a major headwind for U.S.
equities as investors worried it could hurt corporate profits.
Bank shares were hit by the concern, including Morgan Stanley
, which fell 2.9 percent to $16.98. The KBW bank index
fell 0.6 percent.
"It's becoming clear the euro zone is in a recession, and
that brings a lot of concerns. To really get out of the debt
problem, you need growth, and we haven't gotten to that step
yet,"sai d Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford
Trust Co. in Philadelphia.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc slumped 4.7 percent to $59.54
and was the biggest drag on the Dow after the New York Times
reported Wal-Mart officials stymied an internal investigation
into bribery allegations at its Mexican unit, Walmart de Mexico
. Those shares dropped 12 percent to 37.82 pesos.
The sell-off was broad with almost 3 stocks on the New York
Stock Exchange falling for each one that rose, and the
economically sensitive S&P materials sector was among
the worst performing areas, down 1.4 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 102.09
points, or 0.78 percent, at 12,927.17. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 11.59 points, or 0.84 percent, at
1,366.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 30.00
points, or 1.00 percent, at 2,970.45.
The S&P 500 is still up 8.7 percent for the year, some way
off its year-to-date gain of 12.8 percent reached earlier this
Materials shares followed a fall in commodity prices as
copper prices dropped 1.6 percent. Shares in Freeport
McMoran Copper & Gold Inc fell 1.1 percent $37.16.
Shares of Apple Inc, which is due to report results
Tuesday after the bell, briefly fell below their 50-day moving
average for the first time in four months. Shares closed down
0.2 percent at $571.70.
Kellogg Co shares dropped 6.1 percent to $50.70 after
the cereal maker cut its full-year profit view.
The majority of S&P 500 results for the first quarter have
been positive so far, however, with 79 percent of companies
beating Wall Street's earnings expectations.