Stocks are lower as a deal among Greek political leaders on a
325-million-euro ($431 million) austerity package still could fall
apart, and the U.S. trade deficit widened to a six-month high.
Euro-zone finance chiefs are withholding a 130-billion-euro
($172 billion) rescue package until Greek officials commit to the
spending cuts. Without a deal, Greece likely will miss a 14.5
billion-euro bond payment due March 20, triggering a default on its
sovereign debt, and possibly leaving other vulnerable countries
teetering near default as investor confidence wanes that the
European Union can repair its internal finances.
Meanwhile, the gap between American imports and exports rose
3.7% to $48.8 billion from $47.1 billion in November, the Commerce
Department said. Purchases of goods and services produced overseas
were the strongest in more than three years on record demand for
capital equipment like machinery and semiconductors.
The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 75 economists
called for the deficit to rise to $48.5 billion from a previously
estimated $47.8 billion in November. Estimates ranged from gaps of
$43 billion to $50.5 billion. For all of 2011, the shortfall grew
12% to $558 billion, the most since 2008. Both imports and exports
climbed to records.
Also, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan overall index
of consumer sentiment was 72.5 in early February, data showed on
Friday, down from 75.0 in January and below the reading of 74.5
expected in a Reuters poll of economists. The drop was surprising
following recent gains in employment. It helped send stocks lower
after its 10 a.m. ET release, although shares have rebounded
slightly near mid-day.
All 10 S&P 500 industries sectors are lower, paced by
declines in materials and energy stocks.
In company news, LinkedIn Corp (
) is up nearly 16% after Q4 sales more than doubled and the
business social networking site forecast increased 2012
True Religion Apparel Inc (
) plunges more than 23% after missing with both Q4 revenues and
EPS, posting earnings of $0.62 a share on $119.24 million in
revenues. Analsyst had been expecting a $0.71 EPS and $127.98
million in revenues. A gloomy projection for FY 2012 also
Commodities are lower. Gold for March delivery is off $20.70 a
share at $1,719.30 an ounce. Copper futures, often seen as a proxy
for global growth expectations, is down 11.1 cents at $3.8680 a
pound. Crude oil also is lower, with the NYMEX March contract off
$1.31 at $98.53 a barrel, nearly unchanged from earlier this
morning. Brent March futures are down 0.83% at $117.61 a barrel,
gaining nearly $1 off its session lows. March natural gas also has
reversed course since this morning, giving up its smallish gains,
and is now flat at $2.47 per 1 million British Thermal Units.
Among precious metal ETFs, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF is
down 1.32% at $54.52 while the SPDR Gold Trust is off 0.55% at
$167.10. The iShares Silver Trust is down 0.46% at $32.75.
Among energy ETFs, United States Oil Fund is down 1.30% at
$37.83 with the United States Natural Gas Fund ahead 0.76% at
Here's where markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index down 90.68 (1.12%) at 7,990.57.
Dow Jones Industrial Average down 118.94 (0.92%) at
S&P 500 down 10.91 (0.81%) at 1,341.04.
NASDAQ Composite down 20.68 (0.71%) at 2,906.55.
Nikkei down 0.61%.
Hang Seng up down 1.08%.
Shanghai Composite up 0.10%.
FTSE-100 down 0.73%.
MID-DAY NYSE INDEX WATCH
NYSE Energy down 1.18% to 13,113.49.
NYSE Financial down 1.42% to 4,551.68.
NYSE Health Care down 0.77% to 7,133.11.
NYSE Arca Tech 100 down 0.72% to 1,222.17.
(+) CIE, (+27.8%) New oil off Angola coast topped
(+) IPSU, (+18.3%) Extending gains after saying Thursday it may
sell Wholesome Sweeteners unit. .
(-) AMRS, (-27.9%) Reportedly withdrew 2012 production and cash
(-) XIDE, (-22.4%) Q3 financial results disappoint, pares 2012
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