Markets closed down on Wall Street today: Dow -0.13%, S&P -0.04%, Nasdaq -0.13%, Oil -0.67%, Gold -0.25%.
On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $97.18 a barrel. Precious metals were also down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling to $1,723.10 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 0.99% to settle at $33.67.
Today’s markets were down because:
1) Greece. Stocks slipped lower today investors awaited a Greek government decision on budget cuts that are key to securing a second bailout needed to avoid a disorderly default when 14.5 billion in bond payments come due on March 20. No deal was reached over the weekend on austerity measures and financial reforms necessary to secure the bailout package from the European Union, International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank. Furthermore a formal offer for a debt swap with private creditors must be made by February 13 if all procedures are to be completed in time for the troika to release the bailout funds before the bond redemption next month.
2) Companies. A relative absence of major news, unfortunate in the instance of Greece, allowed companies to take the fore on Monday. Micron Technologies (NASDAQ:MU) was trading down after CEO and chairman Steve Appleton died in a small-plane crash on Friday. Mark Duncan was appointed over the weekend to take his place. Coinstar (NASDAQ:CSTR), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) all climbed higher today after Coinstar, the parent of video rental company Redbox, announced that it had formed a joint venture with Verizon to compete against rival Netflix.
3) Earnings. Earnings season is still in full force, and results are being looked to as economic indicators. Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) shares climbed after fourth-quarter earnings beat forecasts by a penny a share, though sales fell short, while Humana (NYSE:HUM) shares dropped nearly 5 percent after reporting that fourth-quarter profit rose from a year earlier while providing upbeat guidance for 2012. Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM), which owns KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, also rose Monday in anticipation of results due after the bell.
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