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Swine flu jitters infect investors

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The swine flu gave Wall Street a reason to turn cautious.

The Dow Jones industrial average gave up a midday recovery and retreated about 0.6 percent Monday as the swine flu’s death count in Mexico grew to about 150 people from 100.

There have been far fewer cases reported elsewhere, including the United States, and no other fatalities. Investors were also mindful of previous health scares that had only short-term jostling effects on the market including bird flu, Mad Cow disease and the West Nile virus — none of which ever escalated to into global pandemics.

Still, Wall Street decided to hedge its bets as the U.S. cases of swine flu doubled to about 40. Ryan Larson, senior equity trader at Voyageur Asset Management, said the flu was a “wild card” for the market. “It’s still a little bit early to go into panic mode, but it’s definitely something that needs to be watched closely,” Larson said.

Airline and other travel-related stocks suffered the sharpest losses Monday. The European Union health commissioner advised Europeans to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico and the United States.

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