A trader works Friday, April 20, 2012, on the trading...

A trader works Friday, April 20, 2012, on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange. Markets were sliding Monday, April 23, on fears over the health of the European economy. Credit: Getty Images

A collection of worrying news out of Europe sent stocks sharply lower Monday.

The Dutch government collapsed Monday, a day after French president Nicolas Sarkozy lost the first round of that country's presidential election. A new report showed that European government debt continues to pile up despite severe budget cuts, which have led to unrest and political upheaval across the continent.

Europe's major stock markets plunged. In the United States, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 102.09 points to close at 12,927.17. The Dow had dropped as many as 183 points in trading Monday morning then spent the rest of the day climbing back.

"The main concern today is the stability of the eurozone as a whole," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at the brokerage BTIG.

Figures reported by the European Union's statistics office confirmed the effects of budget-cutting programs on countries that use the euro currency. Even with widespread spending cuts, overall debt rose to 87.2 percent of gross domestic product, the highest level since the euro was created.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 11.59 points to 1,366.94. The Nasdaq composite fell 30 points to 2,970.45. -- AP

Latest Videos