Stocks slide on turmoil in European economy

NEW YORK — Worrying news out of Europe sent stocks lower Monday.

A new report showed that European government debt continues to pile up despite severe budget cuts, which have led to unrest and political upheaval across the continent. Europe’s major stock markets plunged. In the U.S., the Dow had dropped as many as 183 points in morning trading, then spent the rest of the day climbing back.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 102.09 points to close at 12,927.17.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 11.59 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,366.94.

The Nasdaq composite fell an even 30 points, or 1 percent, to 2,970.45.

First Federal acquires five Hilton Head banks

First Financial Holdings Inc., parent company of Charleston-based First Federal Bank, announced Monday that it has completed its acquisition of five banks in Hilton Head from Liberty Savings Bank.

The acquired banks’ deposits totaled about $115.6 million and consisted predominately of core transaction and savings accounts. First Federal also purchased about $21 million in loans, primarily residential mortgages and home equity lines of credit.

Prior to the transaction, First Federal had three offices in the Hilton Head market. As a result of the transaction, three offices were consolidated for a net addition of two locations, giving First Federal five offices in the market.

American Airlines makes case against union contracts

NEW YORK — American Airlines argued before a federal bankruptcy judge Monday that its union contracts need to be changed to make the company financially stable.

The airline lost more than $10 billion in the decade leading up to its bankruptcy declaration in November. During that same period, most of its major rivals used the bankruptcy process to cut wages and benefits, which American said left it with higher labor costs.

American wants to eliminate 13,000 union jobs — about one in every four union workers — freeze or terminate pension plans, curb health benefits, reduce time off and impose other cuts. The airline also told the court that management costs will be cut by 20 percent through layoffs and wage cuts.

On Friday, the unions expressed their defiance by supporting a potential bid by US Airways to merge with American’s parent company, AMR Corp. If no deal is reached, a judge is expected to issue a decision by June.

Microsoft sells AOL patents to Facebook

NEW YORK — Microsoft, which bought patents from AOL for $1 billion, is selling most of them to Facebook for $550 million. Facebook is buying about 650 of the 925 AOL patents and patent applications that Microsoft bought, Microsoft and Facebook said Monday.

Facebook will also get a license to use the rest of the AOL patents that Microsoft bought. Similarly, Microsoft will get a license to use the patents Facebook is buying. This part of the arrangement amounts to an agreement between Facebook and Microsoft not to sue each other over any of the AOL patents. The companies are not saying what the patents cover.

Spain back into recession as economy contracts

MADRID — Spain slipped back into recession as the country’s economy contracted for the second quarter in a row, the central bank said Monday.

A Bank of Spain monthly report recorded that economic output shrank 0.4 percent in the first quarter of the year, following a 0.3 percent decline in the last quarter of 2011. A technical recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.

The government warned the shrinking economy will contract 1.7 percent this year. The jobless rate is 23 percent.

Staff and wire reports