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Markets’ strong month ends poorly

NEW YORK — Wall Street closed its best month in 20 years on a down note Mon­day as the failure of trading firm MF Global Holdings Ltd. and new worries about Europe’s debt crisis hammered financial shares.

Stocks extended losses in the final hour of trading after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said he will put the European Union’s new agreement on financing for Greece to a referendum.

Morgan Stanley and Citi­group Inc. dropped more than 7.5 percent, following the biggest weekly gain since July 2010 for financial shares in the S&P 500, as European banks retreated. Alcoa Inc. and Chevron Corp. tumbled at least 4.1 percent to pace losses in commodity shares.

The S&P 500 dropped 2.5 percent to 1,253.30, erasing its 2011 gain and capping the biggest decline since Oct. 3.

Macy’s Black Friday to start at midnight

Macy’s at Augusta Mall will open at midnight on Thanks­giving night to kick off the holiday shopping season, said Melissa Goff, the vice president of media relations and cause marketing for Macy’s.

It’s the first time Macy’s stores nationwide will open this early to offer Black Friday savings, according to a news release.

In other news

HUMANA INC.’S third-quarter net income jumped 13 percent after another strong quarter of Medicare Advantage enrollment growth. The health insurer’s shares hit a new 52-week high Monday after it gave a better 2012 forecast than some analysts expected.

ALLSTATE CORP. said its third-quarter net income fell 55 percent after natural disasters cost the insurer $1.08 billion.

AMERICANS’ SPENDING on home videos has finally emerged from the recession – helped by more purchases of higher-priced Blu-ray discs and greater outlays on cut-rate rentals from Netflix and Redbox. For the three months through September, home movie spending rose nearly 5 percent from a year earlier to $3.9 billion, the first increase since early 2008.


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