US indexes slide, putting the market on track for a third loss in a row; Airline stocks fall

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NEW YORK — U.S. stocks sank in midday trading Wednesday as disappointing economic data in the U.S. and Europe weighed on investors' minds. Airlines stocks fell as investors feared that news of the first case of Ebola being diagnosed in the U.S. would discourage people from traveling.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 174 points, or 1 percent, to 16,869 as of noon Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,958 and the Nasdaq composite lost 44 points, or 1 percent, to 4,449.

US DATA IN FOCUS: A closely watched index measuring U.S. manufacturing fell in September. The Institute for Supply Management's survey came in at 56.6, below the 58.5 economists had been looking for. That more than enough offset positive news from the payroll processing company ADP, which showed private employers hired 213,000 workers last month. That was slightly better than the 207,000 workers economists expected, according to FactSet.

EBOLA: News that the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in the U.S. reverberated through several industries. Airlines were among the hardest hit as investors feared people would be discouraged from traveling. American Airlines fell $1.07, or 3 percent, to $34.40 and Delta fell $1.10, or 3 percent, to $35.06.

Drugmakers developing potential vaccines or treatments for Ebola rose. Tekmira Pharmaceuticals jumped $4.39, or 18 percent, to $28.01 after the company said it may start clinical trials for an Ebola drug this year. NewLink Genetics, another company looking into Ebola treatments, rose $1.51, or 7 percent, to $22.93.

GERMANY WEIGHS ON EUROPE: A purchasing managers survey by Markit showed that German manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in September, the latest sign that Europe is being affected by the sanctions on Russia. It was the first time German manufacturing contracted in 15 months.

In European markets, Germany's DAX fell 1 percent, France's CAC 40 lost 1.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 1 percent.

ECB LOOMING: Traders are gearing up for Thursday's European Central Bank policy meeting in Naples, Italy. Though no change in policy is anticipated, there will be great interest in what ECB President Mario Draghi says about possible monetary stimulus from the central bank following further weak inflation data.

HONG KONG IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The latest geopolitical issue investors are facing is in Asia, where pro-democracy protests are happening in Hong Kong. Streets in the business district have closed in the biggest threat to Beijing's authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997. Some banks, schools and stores have closed.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. oil rose $1.64 to $92.80 a barrel in New York. The contract dropped $3.41 on Tuesday to $91.16, pushed down by plentiful supplies and a rise in the U.S. dollar against other currencies.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.42 percent from 2.49 percent late Tuesday.

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