European debt flared again as a worry for Wall Street and has driven stocks to their worst loss in a month. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 125 points, and the price of gold plunged to its lowest level since January.

It was only the second time this year the Dow has recorded a triple-digit decline. The average gained 8 percent from January through March, its best first quarter since 1998, but has lost 1 percent already in April.

The Dow was down as much as 179 points earlier in the day. It recovered to close down 124.80 at 13,074.75. Only four of the 30 stocks that make up the average rose for the day.

A disappointing auction of government debt in Spain signaled that investor confidence in that country's finances is weakening. Spain announced tax increases and budget cuts last week, which could hurt its economy further.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that the economy added 209,000 private-sector jobs in March. Economists think the government's monthly unemployment report on Friday will show a gain of 210,000 for March. Job growth averaged 245,000 from December through February.


(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)