FOX Business: The Power to Prosper
The markets, which were down sharply much of the day, staged a comeback amid reports Greek officials agreed to a five-year austerity plan in exchange for a fresh bailout.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 60 points, or 0.49%, to 12,050, the S&P 500 dipped 3.6 points, or 0.28%, to 1,284 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 17.6 points, or 0.66%, to 2,687. The FOX 50 fell 0.36% to 898.
The major market averages were under significant selling pressure, dropping considerably more than 1% in mid-day trading before the news on Greece.
While the reported agreement between Greek and European Authorities was seen as a stabilizing factor, there are several hurdles the embattled nation will have to jump before it receives a new bailout.
Specifically, the Greek Parliament needs to vote for the measures that the Greek Administration, led by Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, agreed to.The measures have been deeply unpopular among the Greek public-- igniting broad protests throughout the country.
Greece, which has a public debt load of 150% of its annual economic output, has been taking steps to get a fresh emergency aid package in a bid to stave off a default that could impact global credit markets, according to analysts.
The euro traded lower by 0.66% against the U.S. dollar, shedding considerably steeper losses, while the dollar was up 0.54% against a basket of world currencies.
Oil prices plummeted after the International Energy Agency said it would release 2 million barrels of oil a day over the next 30 days from its strategic reserves. The IEA, which represents major oil consuming countries, also said it stands ready to provide more supply if necessary.
Half of the release will come from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, according to the Energy Department. Oil released from U.S. reserves will be mostly the light, sweet variety, according to senior administration officials.
Light, sweet crude tumbled $4.39, or 4.6%, to $91.02 a barrel -- the lowest level since February. Energy stocks like ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) followed oil prices deep into the red.
Wholesale RBOB gasoline was off 14 cents, or 4.7%, to $2.84 a gallon.
Consumer gasoline prices continue their slow march lower. A gallon of regular gas at the pump costs $3.61 on average nationwide, down from $3.83 last month, but well high than the $2.74 drivers paid last year.
Claims for weekly unemployment benefits jumped from a revised 420,000 to 429,000 in the prior week, according to the Labor Department. Wall Street was anticipating a reading of 415,000.
"The data reinforces the economic moderation and lackluster jobs picture that we've been seeing now for a few months, with the remaining question being the extent of the slowdown," wrote Peter Boockvar, managing director of Miller Tabak + Co., in a research note.
Jobless claims have been stuck above the 400,000-level for several weeks, leading analysts to question the robustness of recovery in the jobs market -- a crucial factor in broader economic recovery. Indeed, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday it is "very frustrating" that the we are still years away from what it considers full employment.
New home sales fell 2.1% in May to an annualized unit rate of 319,000, slightly higher than the 310,000 economists were expecting.
The Federal Reserve slashed its forecast for 2011 annual economic growth to a range of 2.7% to 2.9% from 3.1% to 3.3% it suggested in April late on Wednesday. The central bank noted temporary factors, such as the supply-chain impact from the earthquake that slammed Japan in March and high energy prices, have softened the pace of recovery.
On the earnings front, ConAgra Foods (NYSE:CAG) revealed its fourth quarter profit more than doubled to $255 million, or 62 cents a share, on revenue of $3.21 billion. Excluding one-time charges, the food company earned 47 cents, missing estimates by a penny.
However, the company said it expects high commodity costs will hit its bottom line, pushing its 2012 profit expectation below its target.
In metals, gold was down $31.70, or 2.1%, to $1,522 a troy ounce. Silver fell $1.48, or 4%, to $35.27 a troy ounce.
The English FTSE 100 slid 1.7% to 5,674, the French CAC 40 tumbled 2.2% to 3,788 and the German DAX dipped 1.8% to 7,149.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 0.34% to 9,597 and the Chinese Hang Seng was down 0.46% to 21,759.