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Stocks slumped on Thursday as investors fled equities and other risky assets after Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza and a passenger plane crashed in Ukraine. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed unofficially 161 points down, the S&P 500 fell 23 points, or 1.1 percent and the Nasdaq dropped 62 points or 1.4 percent. "The airliner news only adds to the drama around an unsettled market environment for those watching geopolitical events, not only Ukraine, but Israel and Iraq," said Jim Russell, senior equity strategist for US Bank Wealth Management. First, stocks fell on reports that a Malaysia Airlines jet with 295 people on board crashed in the hostile eastern region of Ukraine, near the Russian border. A Ukrainian government adviser said it had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile.Then, the Israeli military said it launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, in response to continued missile attacks from Islamists.

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