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Stock indexes drift lower as Europe fears loom
Indexes drift lower as Europe's economic summit delivers no concrete results
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) ' The Dow Jones industrial average and other stock indexes drifted lower Thursday after a meeting of European leaders resulted in no new concrete action to ease the region's debt crisis.

The Dow dropped 45 points to 12,449 shortly after noon Eastern. Fears that Europe's troubles could turn into a worldwide financial crisis has pushed the 30-stock average down 6 percent this month, erasing most of its gains for the year.

U.S economic news offered little encouragement. Orders for long-lasting factory goods edged up in April, but a key category that tracks business investment spending fell for a second straight month. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dipped last week.

"Uncertainty is playing a big part here," said Stephen Carl, head equity trader at the Williams Capital Group. The potential for bad news to roil markets is so high right now that many investors would prefer to sit it out, Carl said. "There's just so much uncertainty at the moment you don't know which way things are going to go."

Hewlett-Packard jumped 3 percent, leading the Dow. The personal computer maker plans to purge 27,000 employees, nearly 8 percent of the company's payroll. H-P expects the layoffs, part of a turnaround program under CEO Meg Whitman, to save $3 billion or more.

European leaders wrapped up their latest summit Thursday with no new concrete steps to fix the continent's financial crisis, even as worries rise about a messy Greek exit from the euro currency union.

Markets in Europe recovered from a huge sell-off the day before. Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent and the CAC-40 in France rose 1.2 percent.

In U.S. trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index slid four points to 1,314. The Nasdaq composite index fell 18 points to 2,832.

Tiffany & Co. plunged 8 percent after the luxury retailer cut its 2012 sales forecast.

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