U. S. stocks are plunging as a rising wave of political uncertainty rocks Europe and spreads through global financial markets.

European stocks fell sharply Tuesday as newly-elected Greek politicians appeared unable to form a coalition government. The leader of a party trying to gather a governing majority stridently rejected harsh spending cuts and international bailouts that have kept the nation afloat.

U.S. markets opened lower and fell most of the morning. The Dow Jones industrial average was down as much as 198 points and was on track for its fifth straight day of losses.

The Dow was down 159 points at 12,849 shortly before noon EDT. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 17 at 1,352. The Nasdaq composite average was down 46 at 2,912.