Choppy Trading: Euro Turmoil Roils Wall Street

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Wall Street swung in a wide range between modest and deep losses as traders digested a flurry of headlines regarding Europe's sovereign debt crisis.

Today's Markets

As of 3:20 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 85.5 points, or 0.66%, to 12849, the S&P 500 slid 7.2 points, or 0.52%, to 1357 and the Nasdaq Composite dipped 9.4 points, or 0.32%, to 2937.

Many sectors recovered markedly from session lows; indeed, the utility sector was in the green.

The situation in Greece remained quite fluid on the day. The European Financial Stability Fund decided to provide the country the 4.2 billion euro aid tranche it needs this month, but will hold back on 1 billion euro until next month, according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal, citing a statement. That helped allay fears that Greece will imminently miss a debt payment.

Still, the New Democracy party, which holds the most seats in parliament, failed to create a coalition government, meaning the leader of the smaller Syriza party will have to make an attempt on Wedneday. If Greek leadership fails to form a unity government, new elections may have to be held in June. It is also possible that any new government may not be friendly to austerity measures that are needed to receive rescue funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

In either case, it has left market participants uncertain of Greece's fate in the eurozone. Analysts have said that the consequences of a Greek exit are unclear and that it may reverberate through other, weaker nations. Spain has been of particular concern because of its fragile banking sector, high public debt, and painful borrowing costs. Indeed, the country's IBEX plunged 2.8% on the day. The cost to insure against a Spanish default also climbed to a fresh record high.

Traders were making their way into safe-haven assets. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond tumbled 0.078-percentage point to 1.838%. The German bund, seen as a shelter in Europe, saw its yield fall 0.04-percentage point to 1.5%.

Elsewhere, crude oil traded in New York dipped 46 cents, or 0.46%, to $96.57 a barrel. Wholesale New York harbor gasoline gained 0.03% to $3.00 a gallon. The Energy Department said crude oil inventories jumped 3.65 million barrels last week, bigger than the 2 million barrel rise that was expected. However, gasoline inventories dropped 2.61 million barrels, a much bigger draw than the 100,000 that was forecast.

Gold continued on its slide, falling $11.70, or 0.73%, to $1,593 a troy ounce. Silver fell 0.81% and copper slumped 0.12%.

Foreign Markets

Eurozone blue chips fell 0.47%, the English FTSE 100 slipped 0.51% to 5526 and the German DAX gained 0.4% to 6471.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 dropped 1.5% to 9045 and the Chinese Hang Seng sunk 0.75% to 20331.