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Afternoon Business Brief

April 18, 2011, 1:42 PM

Afternoon Business Brief
Stocks have dropped sharply after Standard & Poor's issued a warning about U.S. debt, citing mounting budget deficits. Also, more bad news about Europe's debt crisis has weighed on financial markets. Both the Dow and the S&P fell to their lowest levels in more than a month.
  • The White House is downplaying the significance of a credit rating agency's decision to downgrade its outlook on U.S. government debt. White House spokesman Jay Carney says Standard & Poor's action is a welcome call for a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit.
  • Homebuilders are more pessimistic about the housing market this month. The National Association of Home Builders index fell back down to 16.
  • Oil prices have dropped more than 2 percent today. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude was down more than fell $2 to $107.06 per barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
  • Government bond prices are rising even after Standard & Poor's warned that it could downgrade U.S. debt in the next two years. The yield of the 10-year slipped to 3.38 percent from 3.41 percent late Friday.

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