NEW YORK – U.S. stocks were slightly lower in midday trading Tuesday as investors continued to watch Greece's debt talks and hoped a deal would eventually be reached to keep the country from falling out of the eurozone.
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KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,997 as of 12:13 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost two points, or 0.1 percent, 2,095 and the Nasdaq composite fell three points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,891.
GREEK JITTERS: Greece's European creditors told the country to ask for an extension to its existing bailout program before further talks on financing can take place. After five years of punishing austerity, Greece wants to scrap its existing program in favor of a new one with easier terms. If no agreement is reached by the end of the month, investors expect that Greece may have little option but to default and stop using the euro currency. Most analysts expect a deal will be reached in time.
THE QUOTE: "It remains our central view that an eleventh-hour compromise between Greece and its creditors is still likely," said Jane Foley, analyst at Rabobank International.
EUROPE: Across the continent, European indexes had a mixed ending to the trading day. Germany's DAX edged down 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent and France's CAC-40 closed mostly flat. Greek stocks fell 2.5 percent.
ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude was down $1.08 to $51.69 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.57 to close at $52.78 Friday. U.S. markets were closed Monday for Presidents Day.
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BURNING RUBBER: Goodyear Tire & Rubber's stock surged after the company reported a jump in its quarterly profit, thanks to a $2 billion tax credit that offset the effect of a stronger dollar on sales. Goodyear rose 79 cents, or 3 percent, to $26.71 in early trading.
ROOM UPGRADE: Starwood Hotels was up $2.55, or 3 percent, to $81.11 after the company announced the sudden resignation of its CEO Frits van Paasschen. The company's board of directors said it would pivot the company toward timeshares and other high-growth areas of the hospitality industry.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Prices for U.S. government bonds fell, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 2.10 percent. The dollar rose to 118.96 yen from 118.27 yen. The euro rose to $1.1394 from $1.1335.