US stock indexes inch lower in early trading; Greek default jitters weigh on European markets

EnergyAssociated Press

U.S. stocks are heading lower as more big companies turn in earnings. European indexes fell Thursday amid renewed concerns over Greece's future in the euro currency union.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 20 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,077 as of 10 a.m. Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost three points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,102 and the Nasdaq composite fell a point, or 0.1 percent, to 5,008.

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HUGE QUEUE: Netflix reported that it added 4.9 million subscribers in the first three months of the year, better than any other quarter since the company started streaming video eight years ago. All told, Netflix finished March with 62 million subscribers around the world. Traders drove the company's stock up $65.64, or 14 percent, to $539.80, the biggest gain in the S&P 500.

BIG CITI: Citigroup said its quarterly net income rose 21 percent as the bank trimmed expenses and legal costs, which compensated for a decline in revenue. The results beat Wall Street's estimates, and Citi's stock rose 84 cents, or 2 percent, to $54.09.

JOB MARKET: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week inched up for the second week in a row, the Labor Department said. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, edged up to 282,750, still close to the lowest level in nearly 15 years

GREEK JITTERS: Mounting fears of a Greek debt default sent the country's borrowing costs surging. The latest jitters were stoked by a report Thursday in the Financial Times that Greece made an "informal approach" to the International Monetary Fund to have its bailout repayments delayed. For investors, the report, though citing unnamed officials, was unsettling. The yield on Greece's 10-year bonds surged a percentage point to just under 13 percent. Greece owes the IMF around 1 billion euros ($1.06 billion) in repayments next month. Many in the markets think the Greek government will struggle to make those payments if it doesn't agree an economic reform package with European creditors soon.

ANALYST TAKE: "There seems little chance of talks being resolved," said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital. "A debt default looms."

EUROPE: European stocks slipped, with Germany's DAX falling 1.6 percent and France's CAC 40 dipping 0.6 percent. Greece's main stock market, which has underperformed most of its European peers this week, was 0.8 percent lower. Britain's FTSE 100 edged 0.4 percent lower.

CHINA BOUNCE: The country's main stock market rebounded from losses the previous day, when the world's second-biggest economy posted its slowest quarterly growth in six years. The 7 percent expansion in the January-March period was the weakest since the global financial crisis. Beijing has cut interest rates twice and rolled out other support measures.

ASIA'S DAY: In China, the Shanghai composite index jumped 2.7 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.4 percent. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index up 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi rose 1 percent, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.7 percent.

CRUDE: U.S. benchmark crude slipped 61 cents to $55.78 on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the OPEC oil cartel said that U.S. oil supplies would begin to decline in the second half of the year. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.13 to $62.19 in London.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Prices for U.S. government bonds inched up, nudging the yield on the 10-year Treasury down to 1.87 percent. The euro rose 0.5 percent to $1.0722, while the dollar was flat at 119.14 yen.