US STOCKS-Market falls on debt worries, US jobless claims

* European debt worries, U.S. jobless data rattle markets

* Financial, energy and materials sectors hard hit

* Dow down 2.1 pct; S&P off 2.5 pct; Nasdaq off 2.5 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to afternoon, changes byline)

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, Feb 4 (BestGrowthStock) – Wall Street fell 2 percent on
Thursday as escalating sovereign debt problems in Europe and a
surprise rise in U.S. jobless claims sparked concerns about the
health of the global economy.

The selloff was broad-based, but financial, energy and
materials sectors were hit hardest as investors dumped stocks
considered more risky.

Worries over ability of Greece, Portugal and Spain to pay
their debts buoyed the U.S. dollar, which hurt commodity prices
denominated in the greenback.

“We can’t see the kind of confidence we saw a few weeks ago
in the market any more. People are looking for more reasons to
sell, and they are no longer shaking off the bad news or buying
on the dips,” said Richard Sparks, senior equities analyst at
Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) was down 215.39
points, or 2.10 percent, at 10,055.16. The Standard & Poor’s
500 Index (.SPX: ) sank 27.43 points, or 2.50 percent, at
1,069.85. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) dipped 54.83
points, or 2.50 percent, at 2,136.08.

Spain and Portugal were the latest euro zone countries to
worry investors about mounting fiscal deficits after Greece had
rattled markets earlier. For details, click on
[ID:nLDE6130RE].

For a graphic on the rising cost of insuring these nations’
debt, click on http://link.reuters.com/kyd77h

An unexpected increase in U.S. weekly initial claims for
state unemployment benefits pointed to weakness in the labor
market. [ID:nN04233513]. Employment has been lagging the
broader economic recovery.

The CBOE Volatility Index (.VIX: ), Wall Street’s favorite
measure of sentiment, spiked 18.43 percent to 25.57, reflecting
investor anxiety.

Aluminum company Alcoa Inc (AA.N: ) was among the Dow’s
biggest percentage decliners, down 4 percent at $12.94, along
with Bank of America (BAC.N: ), down 4.2 percent at $14.89. The
largest U.S. bank was also pressured after New York’s attorney
general charged former Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis and former
Chief Financial Officer Joe Price with fraud for allegedly
misleading shareholders about the bank’s acquisition of Merrill
Lynch & Co. [ID:nN0499983]

Also weighing on the financial sector, credit card company
MasterCard Inc (MA.N: ) tumbled 8.4 percent to $226.75 after it
posted quarterly earnings that fell short of Wall Street’s
estimates. That contrasted with stronger-than-expected earnings
from rival Visa Inc (V.N: ) late Wednesday. Visa’s shares edged
up 0.1 percent to $83.63. [ID:nN03182930] and [ID:nN03155595]

Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O: ) shares rose 0.7 percent to
$23.24, the only advancer on the Dow, after the network
equipment maker reported higher-than-expected revenue growth
late on Wednesday.

Shares of CME Group Inc (CME.O: ), which operates U.S.
financial exchanges, dipped 8.9 percent to $266.30 after the
company posted fourth-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.) below Wall Street
expectations.

An S&P index of financial stocks (.GSPF: ) was down 3.1
percent.

Chevron (CVX.N: ) shares dipped 2.4 percent to $71.49 and
Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: ) fell 2 percent to $62.26, weighed by crude
oil prices (CLc1: ) that slipped nearly 5 percent to $73.15 a
barrel.

But retailers reported January sales that beat Wall
Street’s estimates. Department store operator Macy’s Inc (M.N: )
and teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc (AEO.N: ) raised
earnings forecasts. [ID:nN04173396]

Macy’s rose 3.7 percent to $16.84, while American Eagle
fell 2.3 percent to $16.06. But Target Corp (TGT.N: ), the No. 2
U.S. discount retailer, posted disappointing sales, sending its
shares down 3.2 percent to $49. An S&P retail index (.RLX: )
dropped 1.6 percent.

The specter of rising unemployment before Friday’s non-farm
payrolls report overshadowed stronger-than-expected factory
orders as investors piled into safer assets. U.S. Treasury debt
prices rallied.

Stock Market

(Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)

US STOCKS-Market falls on debt worries, US jobless claims