U.S., Global Markets Under Pressure as Greece, Euro-Debt in Focus

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The U.S. equity party that saw major domestic stock market averages hit multi-year highs last week on the back of QE3 stimulus news has come to at least a temporary halt. The European debt crisis is grabbing headlines once again, although the markets had stabilized a bit by mid-day, bouncing off their day lows in a modest defense.

Weighing heavily on U.S. stocks today is news that Greece's international lenders are at loggerheads over how to solve Athens' debt crisis, threatening more trouble for the euro as the IMF is playing hardball, demanding that European governments write off some of the Greek debt they hold.

Officials from Greece and the "troika" of European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund have told Reuters that tensions among them have increased of late, with the Fund pushing to restructure debts Athens owes to public-sector foreign creditors. EU leaders prefer to give Greece more time to meet bailout goals. The Euro is hovering at a two week low, with dollar strength pressuring U.S. equities.

Domestically, sales of newly built homes in the U.S. fell slightly in August, but prices rose a record 11.2% and demand remained at a two-year high. Sales of new homes dipped to an annual rate of 373,000 in August from 374,000 in July, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Yet the pace of sales in July, originally reported as 372,000, was the highest since April 2010. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast new home sales to rise to a seasonally adjusted 380,000.

Shares of tech bellweather Apple ( AAPL ) continued to slide, touching a day low of $661.20, well off a 52-week high of $705.07 established just last week.

Like the equity markets, commodities remain are under selling pressure, with crude oil extending last week's descent, slipping under the $90 per barrel mark today, down $2.03 to $89.34 a barrel, despite an unexpected decrease in inventories by 2.4 million barrels for the week ended Sept. 21. Analysts polled by Platts had expected an increase by 1.5 million barrels.

October natural gas has managed to buck the downtrend, and is trading up $0.067 to $2.99 per 1 million BTU.

December Gold is down $22.40 per ounce at $1744.00. December silver is down $0.378 to $33.57. December copper is down $0.064 to $3.69.

Here's where the market stood at mid-day:

NYSE Composite down 51.88 (-0.63%) to 8,222.89

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 22.77 (-0.17%) to 13,434.78

S&P 500 down 7.15 (-0.50%) to 1,434.44

Nasdaq Composite Index down 27.73 (-0.89%) to 3,090.00

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index down 2.03%

Hang Seng Index down 0.82%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 1.25%

FTSE 100 Index down 1.53%

DAX down 1.99%

CAC 40 down 2.44%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index (^NYE) down 138.29 (-1.07%) at 12,794.59

NYSE Financial Sector Index (^NYK) down 37.52 (-0.79%) to 4,744.44

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index (^NYP) down 25.55 (-0.32%) to 7,919.57

UPSIDE MOVERS:

(+) WCBO (+10.5%, hit new year highs) Shares are up on news that the company and Columbia Banking System ( COLB ) have agreed to combine their two Pacific Northwest community bank franchises in a transaction valued at approximately $506 million.

(+) SCMP (+8.4%) The company and Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted priority review of their supplemental new drug application (sNDA) filing.

(+) CRME (+7.1%) Shares jump following Merck's ( MRK ) announcement that it will return the global marketing and development rights for both the intravenous and oral formulations for vernakalant.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS:

(-) GEVO (-12.2%) Shares tumble to new year lows after stock was downgraded to Sell from Buy at UBS.

(-) BTH (-20%, hit new year lows) Shares taking a beating after ViSalus, a subsidiary of Blyth, Inc. ( BTH ), withdrew its initial public offering due to uncertain market conditions.

(-) PATH (- 27%) Sell-off hits shares after the company said it has entered into agreements with existing and new investors for the sale of $28 million of securities.



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.

Copyright (C) 2014 MTNewswires.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.


This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , BTH , COLB , MRK

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