By Dow Jones Business News, February 25, 2013, 03:41:00 PM EDT
By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks fell on Monday, with the S&P 500 extending losses after its first weekly drop
this year, as political issues, both domestically and abroad, weighed.
Equities declined as investors looked to the March 1 deadline for U.S. lawmakers to reach a deal to avert automatic
spending cuts, known as sequestration, as well as the results from a general election in Italy.
"The market started off strong today, but is starting to get a little worried. If the sequestration happens, and the
big cuts are in place, I am pretty sure the market is going to pull back, maybe 3% to 5%, then go to all-time highs,"
said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.
After an 81-point rise, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell as much as 107 points, and was lately off 70.14
points, or 0.5%, at 13,930.43.
Just eight of the Dow's 30 components gained, with McDonald's Corp. ( MCD ) the strongest performer and Bank of America
Corp. ( BAC ) hardest hit.
The S&P 500 index (SPX) fell 11.73 points, or 0.8%, to 1,503.93, with financial companies the worst performing of its
The Nasdaq Composite index (RIXF) shed 15.71 points, or 0.5%, to 3,146.46.
Equities have fallen in recent sessions, with the S&P 500 on Friday tallying its first weekly drop this year, as
strategists said the market could use a correction or at minimum a pause given an advance that has the S&P 500 up 5.9%
so far this year.
"The market is already primed for a pullback, all it needs is a catalyst," said Frederick.
For every five stocks rising nine fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 357 million shares traded as of 1:40 p.m.
Eastern. Composite volume topped 2 billion.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the price of oil slipped slightly, with crude for April delivery (CLJ3) down 2
cents to close at $93.11 a barrel.
The euro (EURUSD) fell against other global currencies, including the U.S. dollar (DXY), as investors tracked the
outcome of national elections in Italy, where a potentially strong performance by Silvio Berlusconi's coalition is seen
as a threat to the nation's austerity agenda.
After polls closed in Italy's second day of general-election voting, partial results pointed to an outcome that could
end in a split parliament.
Italy's state broadcaster pointed Monday to a stronger-than-initially-thought showing by Berlusconi and his allies in
the upper house. A center-left coalition headed by Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani is reportedly on track for
a majority in the lower house.
Exit polls showing the lead of Bersani's center-left alliance "perhaps being challenged" led to a pullback on Wall
Street, said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
A divided Congress in Italy could "run counter to reforms Italy has undertaken to be a member of good standing in the
European Union, and could compromise Italy's debt and its position in the euro," he added.
Friday's deadline to avoid across-the-board reductions in federal spending brings another standoff between President
Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress. If lawmakers fail to move, government spending will be cut by $85 billion in
the last seven months of this fiscal year.
Lowe's Cos Inc.'s ( LOW ) on Monday reported quarterly results that exceeded estimates, with the home-improvement chain
projecting higher revenue for the current fiscal year.
Barnes & Noble Inc. ( BKS ) shares rallied 11% after the founder and chairman disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday
that he had told the book seller he would attempt to acquire the company's retail business.
Deutsche Boerse AG shares gained after the German exchange said it was not in merger talks with CME Group Inc. ( CME )
Bloomberg News cited people familiar with the matter in reporting the CME had approached Deutsche Boerse at the end of
Affymax Inc. ( AFFY ) shares dropped 85% after the drug maker and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. voluntarily recalled a
dialysis treatment in the wake of reports it could prompt potentially life-threatening reactions.
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