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Plunging Dow, consumer confidence: signs of 'double dip' recession?

Investors worldwide have grown more cautious about the outlook for the economy and corporate profits.

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A trader leans on a phone post as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, in New York, in this June 7 photo. Worries about the global economy are showing up in sagging stock prices, a plunge in US consumer confidence. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 2 percent in morning trading Tuesday.

Richard Drew/AP

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Worries about the global economy are showing up in sagging stock prices, a plunge in US consumer confidence, and an investor flight to safe-haven Treasury bonds.

The underlying concern is a simple one: Does the economic recovery have staying power, or is the risk of a double-dip recession rising?

Even though many economists see continued expansion ahead, investors have grown more cautious about the outlook for the economy and corporate profits. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 2 percent in morning trading Tuesday, with the index dipping below 10,000. In April, by contrast, the Dow stood above 11,000.

The mood shift is global, fueled by challenges that have cropped up from Europe to the US and China:

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