FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here
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After spending much of the session zigzagging between gains and losses, Wall Street closed in the red as worries about the fiscal cliff and the eurozone debt crisis sapped traders' confidence.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 58.9 points, or 0.46%, to 12756, the S&P 500 dipped 5.5 points, or 0.4%, to 1375 and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 20.4 points, or 0.7%, to 2884.
The markets took a breather Monday, barely budging in holiday-thinned trade. However, activity picked up Tuesday. Home Depot (HD) and Disney (DIS) were the best performers on the Dow by a wide margin.
Home Depot posted better-than-expected quarterly results on the top and bottom lines, helping to send its shares higher. However, on the other end of the spectrum, were technology stocks. Microsoft (MSFT) slumped after a key Windows executive who was seen as a prime candidate for the chief executive role unexpectedly left. Other big-name tech companies Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) fell as well.
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European, Fiscal Cliff Worries Linger
On the European front, a closely-watched indicator of German economic sentiment unexpectedly dropped in November. The ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment fell 4.2 points to -15.7. Economists expected a reading of -10. There have been worries brewing that the eurozone's debt crisis, coupled with other global headwinds, are beginning to take a toll on Europe's biggest economy that has so far been fairly resilient.
Eurozone finance ministers also gave Greece an extra two years to meet goals on slashing its budget deficit. However, disagreements between the European Union and International Monetary Fund have caused uncertainty over when the country will receive much-needed rescue aid. Without the aid, Greece is at risk of defaulting on its debt, the specter of which has roiled financial markets in the past.
The economic calendar remains fairly light on Tuesday. It is set to pick up later in the week with minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy-setting meeting and data on retail sales, inflation and manufacturing.
The U.S. federal budget deficit expanded to $120 billion in October from $98.5 billion in the same month the year before, the Treasury Department said. Economists expected a reading of $114 billion.
Wall Street has also been paying close attention to Washington, D.C., with the fiscal cliff ticking closer every day. President Barack Obama met with labor leaders Tuesday and then with business leaders tomorrow to discuss the disagreements.
Commodities markets were lightly changed. The benchmark crude oil contract fell 19 cents, or 0.22%, to $85.38 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.84% to $2.654 a gallon.
In metals, gold slumped $6.10, or 0.35%, to $1,725 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.79% to 2493, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.33% to 5786 and the German DAX inched up by 0.01% to 7169.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slipped 0.18% to 8661 and the Chinese Hang Seng sold off by 1.1% to 21189.