NEW YORK - Stocks took another late-day dive Tuesday after the government said it was starting criminal and civil investigations into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped almost 113 points. Its plunge came shortly before the close and minutes after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. made the announcement. Stocks in energy companies and oil-service providers tumbled on the news; other stocks followed.
Holder would not say which companies or individuals might be under investigation. But investors quickly dumped stocks across the energy industry. BP P.L.C., which operated the rig that caused the spill, fell almost 15 percent. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which has a stake in the rig that exploded, tumbled nearly 20 percent. Oil-services company Halliburton Inc. fell almost 15 percent.
Among the fears in the market is the potential economic hit from the spill. But Tuesday's announcement raised the possibility that oil companies might have to pay huge amounts in fines, or see their operations hampered by a government investigation.
Trading was choppy for much of the day before Holder's announcement, a sign that investors weren't sure where to put their money. Investors were juggling worries about Europe's debt problems with upbeat reports on U.S. manufacturing and construction.
The euro slid as low as $1.2112, its lowest level since April 2006, before climbing back to $1.2232.
Stocks did get some early support from the Commerce Department's report that construction spending rose by the biggest amount in nearly a decade. However, homebuilders' stocks fell although the report showed a big jump in residential building. The rise was expected to disappear now that a homebuyers' tax credit has expired.
The Dow fell 112.61, or 1.1 percent, to 10,024.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 18.70, or 1.7 percent, to 1,070.71, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 34.71, or 1.5 percent, to 2,222.33.
The dollar fell against most other major currencies, while gold rose. Crude oil fell $1.39 to $72.58 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Among consumer stocks, Procter & Gamble Co. rose 7 cents to $61.16, and Kraft Foods Inc. rose 30 cents to $28.90.
Homebuilder KB Home fell 75 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $13.73, while Toll Brothers Inc., of Horsham, fell 94 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $20.13.