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Brutal: Dow Plunges Amid 'Double-Dip' Recession Jitters

Happy birthday, Mr. President:

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged as many as 400 points, erasing its gains for the year, as investors grew more worried about economic weakness in the U.S. and Europe.  The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.7 percent, bringing it 11 percent below its recent high of 1,363 reached on April 29. A decline of 10 percent or more is considered to be a market correction. The Dow Jones industrial average is now down more than 1,200 points from July 21.

"We are continuing to be bombarded by worries about the global economy," said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Financial.  Stock trading has been volatile this week because of concerns that the U.S. economy is weakening. Manufacturing, consumer spending and hiring by private companies are below levels that are consistent with a healthy economy. Those reports have called into question estimates from economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, that the economy will grow more quickly in the second half of the year.

Never fear, America: Obama is "pivoting to jobs" (again).  What might that pivot look like, exactly?  Well, he's on a tax-payer funded, not-at-all-political "jobs" bus tour across the Midwest, for starters.  Wonderful.  But what is the president specifically doing to foster job growth?  Good question -- so good, in fact, that the White House Press Secretary struggled mightily to answer it at his daily briefing.  No wonder Obama is instructing his supporters to avoid getting "bogged down" in the specifics of his record; vague, pleasant-sounding generalizations will do just fine, thank you very much.  The US debt has now settled in at a cool 100 percent of GDP.  Tomorrow's unemployment number is expected to be hideous.  Even Politico is starting to worry that Obama might be toast.

It's all good, though.  Last night, Obama assured an anxious nation that he's "not even half way" though his transformational presidency, so plenty of hopenchange lies ahead.  Lucky us:

UPDATE - At the closing bell, the Dow is down 515 points.  Yikes.

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