Stocks plunge on earnings report, financing costs

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Lower-than-expected earnings at Exxon Mobil Corp. and ongoing questions about debt defaults and a slowing in the takeover frenzy combined to clobber stocks this morning.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 243.8 points, to 13,541.3, and the Standard & Poor’s index was down nearly 32, to 1,486.2.

Exxon reported that production fell, and homebuilders including Beazer Homes USA Inc., which operates in the Indianapolis area, reported losses, according to Bloomberg.

New home sales fell more than expected and ongoing high oil prices also sapped investor enthusiasm.

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