Stocks sink in early trading; gold plunges

April 15, 2013
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 to $1,400 an ounce for the first time since March 2011 as a sell-off in metals continued from last week. Oil prices hit their lowest level since mid-December.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 89 points at 14,773 shortly after 10 a.m. Monday, a drop of 0.6 percent. Caterpillar led the Dow lower, losing 3 percent to $82.87.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 12 points to 1,577, a loss of 0.7 percent. The Nasdaq composite fell 25 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,267.

Mining and energy stocks had the biggest losses following the plunge in commodity prices. Freeport-McMorRan Copper Gold and Newmont Mining fell 6 percent, the biggest drops in the S&P 500 index.

Citigroup rose 3 percent to $46.05, one of the biggest gains in the S&P. The bank reported earnings Monday that beat analysts' estimates thanks to strength in investment banking.

Two deals sent some stocks higher. Sprint Nextel jumped after Dish Network offered $25 billion to buy the company. Dish's bid is aimed at beating Japanese phone company SoftBank's offer for Sprint. Dish fell 6 percent to $35.28. Sprint surged 16 percent to $7.20.

Thermo Fisher Scientific offered to pay $13.6 billion to buy genetic testing equipment maker Life Technologies. Thermo Fisher said Monday it agreed to pay $76 in cash for each share of Life Technologies. Both companies' stock jumped. Thermo Fisher rose 3 percent $82.21, and Life Technologies rose 8 percent $73.23.

In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 1.71 percent from 1.72 late Friday. The yield remains near its low point of the year, 1.69 percent, which was reached April 5 following news that U.S. employers hired far fewer workers than expected last month.