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Thursday Evening Business Brief

July 31, 2014, 6:37 PM

Thursday Evening Business Brief

NEW YORK (AP) - Traders are worried about weak corporate earnings and the looming end of the Federal Reserve's economic stimulus. As a result, stocks had their worst one-day drop since February. The Dow plunged 317 points, or 1.9 percent, to close at 16,563. The S&P 500 dropped 39 points, or 2 percent, to 1,930. The Nasdaq dropped 93 points, or 2.1 percent, to 4,369.

  • The price of oil is at its lowest level since March 17. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $2.10 today to close at $98.17 a barrel in New York. Its high for the year was $107.26, set on June 20; its low was $91.66, set on January 9. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 49 cents to close at $106.02 in London.
  • Argentina's economy minister says he's willing to hold further talks with holdout investors whose claim for bond payments forced the South American country into its second default in 13 years. A U.S. court has blocked Argentina from making interest payments to creditors until it settles with U.S. hedge funds who claim they are owed about $1.5 billion.
  • Alpha Natural Resources expects to lay off 1,100 workers at 11 West Virginia surface coal mines by mid-October, with the company citing dismal markets and federal regulation. Alpha says the mines produce about 75 percent thermal coal for power generation, and 25 percent metallurgical coal for steel production.
  • Electric car maker Tesla Motors says it's preparing a site near Reno, Nevada, as a possible location for its new battery factory, but is still evaluating other locations. Tesla says it broke ground on the Nevada site in June, and adds that it'll decide on the final location for the $5 billion factory in the next few months. California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas are also in the running.

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