(New York, NY)  --  Stocks are closing down today thanks to a selloff that picked up steam in the final hour before the closing bell.  Stocks were up shortly after the opening bell, but turned down before midday. 

Traders are nervous about the automatic government spending cuts set to go into effect on Friday. 

They're also monitoring an important election in Italy and how it could affect the debt problems in Europe. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 216 points, most of it during the final minutes of the trading day, to close at 13-thousand-784.  The S&P 500 lost 28 points to 14-88. 

The Nasdaq lost 46 points to 31-16.