EU Fears Strike Wall Street; Dow Ends Week Lower
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Anxiety that the sovereign debt crisis that has hit Greece could spillover into other euro zone nations sapped traders' confidence, thrusting the blue chips lower on the week for the seventh time in the past eight weeks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 116 points, or 0.96%, to 11,935, the S&P 500 slipped 15 points, or 1.2%, to 1,268 and the Nasdaq Composite slid 33.9 points, or 1.3%, to 2,653. The FOX 50 dropped 10.4 points to 888.
Greece inked a five-year deal with the European Union and International Monetary fund in which it will take deeper austerity measures in exchange for an emergency aid package. While the news was encouraging, many market participants remained wary because the deal still hinges on the Greek Parliament voting for austerity measures that have been highly-unpopular among the public.
The embattled country, with a debt burden of nearly half a trillion dollars, could have to restructure, or worse, default on, its debt if it doesn't get an emergency aid package. Such an event can reverberate across global credit markets, analysts say.
"Worries are building again in whether the EU can contain the debt crisis around Greece, Ireland and Portugal," wrote Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak + Co., in a research note, adding that more stable countries like Spain and Italy could be adversely affected.
On the economic front, orders for long-lasting durable goods increased by 1.9% in May, topping estimates of 1.5%, after dipping 3.6% the prior month. Excluding the transportation segment, durable goods orders rose 0.6%, short of the 0.9% economists had expected. Stocks of companies that make such like Boeing (NYSE:BA) and General Electric (NYSE:GE) may be particularly affected by these data.
The economy expanded at an annualized rate of 1.9% in the first quarter, slightly higher than the 1.8% economists forecast in a previous reading. The country's economic output grew a significantly quicker pace of 3.1% in the fourth quarter.
Many economists are concerned that a slew of economic headwinds, including high energy prices and supply-chain impacts from the earthquake that slammed Japan in March, may dampen growth further in the current quarter.
Energy markets plunged on Thursday after the International Energy Agency said it would release 60 million barrels of oil a day, half of which will come from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Indeed, oil prices are now at their lowest level since February. However, prices were only down a more moderate 2.4% for the week, but are now on the longest weekly losing streak since 2010.
Light, sweet crude drifted lower by 43 cents, or 0.47%, to $90.60 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline was off 5 cents, or 1.7%, to $2.79 a gallon.
Prices at the pump have been slower to fall than wholesale prices. A gallon of regular gas costs $3.61 on average nationwide, down from $3.81 last month, but considerably higher than the $2.75 drivers paid last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
In metals, gold ticked lower by $10.80, or 0.72%, to $1,510 a troy ounce. Silver fell 14 cents, or 0.4%, to $34.88 a troy ounce.
The euro fell 0.48% against the U.S. dollar and the greenback gained 0.22% against a basket of world currencies.
Micron (NYSE:MU) retreated more than 14% in response to the tech companys surprisingly gloomy quarterly results.
Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) made a $5 billion cash offer for Southern Union (NYSE:SUG), rivaling a $4.2 billion by Energy Transfer (NYSE:ETE).
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is suing Samsung in South Korea, alleging the electronics maker infringed on several of its patents.
Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) revealed plans to invest $306 million in a Chinese travel search engine.
The English FTSE 100 was up 0.41% to 5,698, the French CAC 40 fell 0.08% to 3,785 and the German DAX lost 0.39% to 7,121.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 gained 0.85% to 9,679 and the Chinese Hang Seng soared 1.9% to 22,172.