Benchmarks ended with losses following concerns over the Cyprus bailout and the Euro Zone crisis. Discouraging comments from the head of the Euro Zone's finance ministers wiped away optimism created by the Cyprus bailout plan, from the markets. All the top ten S&P 500 industrial groups suffered losses and the industrial sector suffered the most.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) lost 0.4% to close the day at 14,447.75. The S&P 500 decreased 0.3% to finish yesterday's trading session at 1,551.69. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.3% to end at 3,235.30. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) gained 1.3% to settle at 13.74. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 5.8 billion shares, below 2012's average of 6.48 billion shares. Declining stocks outnumbered the advancers. For the 39% that advanced, 58% declined.
Yesterday, the Dow had touched an all-time intra-day high and the S&P 500 was just a whisker away from its all-time high before fresh concerns over Cyprus and Euro Zone pulled them back. Head of the Eurogroup of Euro-Zone financial ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, told Reuters and the Financial Times that the Cyprus bailout plan should be used an example for financially distressed economies. He added that Euro Zone lawmakers would ask bondholders, shareholders and uninsured account holders to anchor failing banks via recapitalization. These comments created dampened investor sentiment and benchmarks were pushed into negative territory.
However benchmarks moved up from their lowest point after Jeroen Dijsselbloem clarified his comments saying: "Cyprus is a specific case with exceptional challenges, which required the bail-in measures we have agreed upon yesterday. Macro-economic adjustment programs are tailor-made to the situation of the country concerned and no models or templates are used."
Earlier, investor sentiment received boost following the Cyprus bailout during morning trading yesterday until Dijsselbloem made his initial remarks. The deal took place between Cyprus and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Union (EU). In-spite of Russia having substantial deposits in Cyprus banks, they have not objected to the bailout deal.
According to the deal, Cyprus will recover losses from large uninsured account holders carrying a deposit of more than 100,000 Euros in the Popular Bank of Cyprus (also known as Laiki Bank). A portion of the losses would also be recovered in the form of high tax imposition and privatization. The Popular Bank of Cyprus, which is owned by the state, would also transfer accounts carrying deposits below 100,000 Euros to the Bank of Cyprus. The idea is to create one "good bank" by transferring funds below 100,000 Euro and viable assets to Bank of Cyprus and close Laiki Bank. However, there is no confirmation as to how big a loss depositors will occur on deposits above 100,000 Euros in Laiki will suffer. But through this bailout plan the Euro Zone lawmakers expects to raise about 4.2 billion Euros.
The Central Bank decided to extend the closure of banks till Wednesday. This decision came in just after Cyprus sealed a deal to avert a financial crisis. The Central Bank said: "for the smooth functioning of the entire banking system, the finance minister has decided, after a recommendation by the governor of the Central Bank, that all banks remain shut up to and including Wednesday."
On the earnings front, shares of Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL ) gained 7.1% after it registered profits better than the Street's expectations. The profits came in in-spite of a fall in student sign-ups for the fourth consecutive quarter.
Among the top ten S&P 500 industry groups, industrials suffered the most. Industrial SPDR (XLI) decreased 0.9%. Stocks such as General Electric Company (NYSE: GE ), United Technologies Corporation (NYSE: UTX ), Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP ), 3M Co (NYSE: MMM ) and Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON ) declined 0.1%, 0.8%, 1.4%, 1.2% and 0.4%, respectively.