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Global news, grim earnings sink stocks

As the stock indexes swooned on Jan. 14,

As the stock indexes swooned on Jan. 14, 2015, a trader hangs on while on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Credit: EPA / Justin Lane

Disappointing results from Bank of America, Citigroup and other companies helped pull the stock market lower Thursday. Target rose after the retailer announced plans to close down its stores in Canada.

JUST THE NUMBERS: At the close on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 106.4 points, or about 0.6 percent, at 17,320.7. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 18.6 points, about 0.9 percent, to 1992.7. The Nasdaq gave up 68.5 points, or 1.5 percent, to 4,570.8.

TURBULENT TIMES: Discouraging news on the global economy and falling oil prices have rattled markets over recent weeks. The S&P 500 has slumped 2 percent this week, on track for its third straight week of losses.

But reports on the U.S. economy remain encouraging. Last week, the government said that the unemployment rate declined to 5.6 percent in December, a six-year low. On Thursday, the New York branch of the Federal Reserve reported manufacturing expanded in the region.

ONE VIEW: "Lately, it has ... been the economy versus the markets," said Jack Ablin, the chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank. "There's a divergence. The financial markets are worried about the impact of plunging oil prices, at the same time the economic backdrop in the U.S. is improving."

PINCHED PROFITS: Weak revenue from trading and lending helped pull Bank of America's profits down 11 percent in the fourth quarter. The bank's results for revenue and earnings fell short of Wall Street's estimates. Shares of BAC sank 84 cents, or about 5 percent, to close at $15.20.

CITI: Citigroup sank $1.82, or nearly 4 percent, to close at $47.23 after news that the bank's quarterly profit fell 86 percent. The bank booked big legal and restructuring charges at the end of last year to cover costs tied to a number of investigations. Analysts had expected stronger results.

SWISS GET CURRENT: The Swiss national bank rocked currency markets on Thursday when it abandoned its efforts to keep the franc artificially low against the euro. The Swiss franc soared in response. Swiss stocks took a pounding on the prospect of Swiss exports becoming more expensive to overseas buyers, and therefore less competitive.

In other trading, the dollar fell to 116.98 yen from 117.49 yen late Wednesday, while the euro fell to $1.1595 from $1.1789.

INDIA CUTS RATE: The Reserve Bank of India cut its key interest rate Thursday in a surprise move to revive Asia's third-biggest economy. The decision to lower the rate to 7.75 percent, announced more than two weeks before the central bank's monetary policy review on Feb. 3, follows several months of declines in India's high inflation rate. The Sensex stock index in Mumbai soared 2.6 percent.

LATER, EH: Target is closing its stores in Canada, saying it was unable to find a realistic way for the division to turn a profit before 2021. It's the first major move by the retailer's new CEO, Brian Cornell. Target's stock rose $1.34, or nearly 2 percent, to close at 75.67.

FALLING HARD: Radio Shack's stock lost 24 percent following a report in The Wall Street Journal that the struggling electronics retailer could file for bankruptcy protection as early as February. The report said Radio Shack is also talking to a private-equity firm about a sale of its assets. The company's stock fell nearly 15 cents to close at 26 cents.

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