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US stocks decline broadly following a slump in Europe and weak corporate earnings reports

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NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are closing broadly lower following steep declines in Europe.

Investors are worried that Greece may default on its debt and exit the euro currency union. Chinese regulators were also taking steps Friday to rein in a runaway stock market there.

In the U.S., American Express and other companies fell after releasing disappointing results.

PHOTO: FILE-This Oct. 29, 2014 file photo shows the Wall Street subway stop on Broadway, in New York's Financial District.  U.S. stocks are falling broadly in early trading on Friday, April 17, 2015,  following steep declines in Europe and some results from big U.S. companies. Nine of the 10 industry groups of the Standard and Poor’s 500 are down, led by information technology companies.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
FILE-This Oct. 29, 2014 file photo shows the Wall Street subway stop on Broadway, in New York's Financial District. U.S. stocks are falling broadly in early trading on Friday, April 17, 2015, following steep declines in Europe and some results from big U.S. companies. Nine of the 10 industry groups of the Standard and Poor’s 500 are down, led by information technology companies. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 279 points, or 1.5 percent, to 17,826. It was down as much as 357 points earlier.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 23 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,081.

The Nasdaq composite fell 76 points, or 1.5 percent, to 4,931.

European markets fell sharply. Germany's DAX lost 2.6 percent and traders shifted money into German government bonds, which investors see as a safe haven in turbulent times.

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