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US stocks down sharply at midday after reports of sluggish growth in the US economy

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - U.S. stocks are falling sharply in midday trading, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 200 points, as investors react to reports of sluggish growth in the U.S. economy.

The decline adds to losses racked up by the market in January.

The Dow was down 183 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 15,516 at 11:26 a.m. (1626 GMT) Monday. The index fell as much as 206 points earlier. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 22 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 1,760. The Nasdaq slipped 58 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 4,046.

A report Monday showed that U.S. manufacturing barely expanded last month. Construction spending rose modestly in December, slowing from healthy gains earlier.

Fresh signs of weakness in China's manufacturing sector added to lingering worries about developing economies.

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