Stocks Lower, But Have Pared Some Losses as Europe Debt Fears Weigh

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Stocks have remained in sharply lower territory, but are off their worst levels, as eurozone fears weigh on investor sentiment. Concerns over sovereign debt and the speed austerity measures are implemented dominated market trade across the globe as U.S. markets returned to action after a long holiday weekend.

European stocks rebounded from the sharp losses suffered Monday, when U.S. markets were closed. Swiss markets are leading the way. Swiss National Bank officials took an extraordinary step to set a euro-Swiss franc floor. The action sent the "safe-haven" currency lower and the country's stocks higher.

The latest signs of a setback in Europe's efforts to deal with its sovereign-debt woes include reports of a hiatus in talks between Greece and its financial-aid partners and reports of pressure on Italy to step up its austerity measures. Worries were aggravated after a weekend loss by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union in regional elections in her home state.

In company news:

Research in Motion ( RIMM ) shares are higher on a Reuters report an investor in the maker of the BlackBerry wants the company to look at selling itself or spinning off its patent portfolio. Jaguar Financial Corp Chief Executive Vic Alboini is quoted in the report as saying "the status quo is not acceptable, the company cannot sit still."

U.S. banks, including Bank of America ( BAC ), JP Morgan ( JPM ), Wells Fargo ( WFC ) and Citigroup ( C ), are in talks with state prosecutors to settle claims of improper mortgage practices. they reportedly have been offered a deal that may limit their legal liabilities in return for a multibillion-dollar payment, The Financial Times reports, citing five people with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Shares of Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) are down despite announcing major expansion plans in China over the next four years that could lead to a tripling of its locations there. The company said it plans to expand in other parts of Asia as well. In all, Starbucks plans to have 1,500 shops in China by 2015, up from 470. In addition it plans to have 700 shops in South Korea, said Asia Pacific President Jinlong Wang.

Shares of Dell (DELL) are down after the BBC reported the computer maker said it will partner with Baidu (BIDU) on mobile devices. Dell is developing smartphones that would run Baidu's new software platform, Baidu Yi, for the Chinese market.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson are down on several reports that Food and Drug Administration scientists are recommending that a blood thinner that Bayer (BAYRY) and J&J are developing - called Xarelto - be rejected. The review is a blow to a drug that would generate top sales of $1 billion or more, according to a Forbes report on the matter.

News Corp (NWSA) shares are trending lower on a Bloomberg report the company will cut 110 positions at its U.K. News International unit. The report cited a person with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg reports.

ADRs of BP (BP) are off pre-market declines topping 3% as Fox Business reports that the oil giant's Kinnoull Field development in the U.K. North Sea can go ahead as planned, Department of Energy and Climate Change Minister Charles Hendry said Tuesday. Along with its partners, BP plans to invest $1.1 billion in development on the Kinnoull reservoir with a production goal of 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day beyond 2020.

Commodities are mixed. December gold contracts are up 0.08% to $1,878 an ounce while October crude oil contacts are down 2.39% to $84.41 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 2.35% to $32.85 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is UP 1.49%, to $9.85.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.34% to $182.64. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.55% to $65.27. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 3.03% to $40.89.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: BAC , C , JPM , RIMM , WFC

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