Delinquencies of U.S. mortgages in the first quarter shot up to levels not seen in nearly four decades, snaring a wider range of borrowers and suggesting that the U.S. housing market remains under severe stress.

News of the record amount of mortgage loan delinquencies and foreclosures unsettled equity investors, sending share prices lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 33.53 points at 8,266.49 soon after release of an industry report mid-morning Thursday.

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