Brokers work on the trading desk at ICAP following the Federal Reserve rate announcement on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 in Jersey City, N.J. ICAP PLC, based in London, is the world's largest inter-dealer broker. The Fed cut the rate 3/4 point. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Stocks are opening sharply lower after warnings about the finances of several European countries reignited fears about the region's debt crisis.
The Dow Jones industrial average is down 160 points, or 1.3 percent, at 12,352 in the opening minutes of trading Monday. The S&P 500 is down 17, or 1.3 percent, at 1,316. The Nasdaq composite is down 46, or 1.6 percent, at 2,757.
European markets are falling after Standard & Poor's said Saturday that it might lower Italy's debt rating within two years.
Investors are also concerned that Spain's government will have more difficulty enforcing spending cuts after a defeat for the ruling Socialist party Sunday.
On Friday debt a downgrade for Greece gave investors more reason to fear that the country could require more financial help.