Market Recap: Stocks Decline on Greek Tumult

Markets closed down on Wall Street today: Dow -0.05%, S&P -0.25%, Nasdaq -0.16%, Oil -0.59%, Gold -0.21%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell slightly to $98.97 a barrel. Precious metals also fell, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling to $1,731.70 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 1.04% to settle at $33.44.

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Today’s markets were down because:

1) Greece. Stocks slipped today as investors awaited news from a European summit in Brussels where leaders are expected to approve a permanent rescue fund for the euro zone and put the finishing touches on a so-called “fiscal compact” for stricter budget discipline. But discussions devolved into a sparring match between Greece and other nations critical of Greece’s half-hearted efforts to get its deficit under control. The country has yet to effect a debt writedown deal with private creditors needed if Greece’s troika of lenders — the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund —  are to release its 130 billion-euro bailout now thought to be insufficient to buoy Greece’s flailing economy.

2) Spending. Consumer spending was completely flat in November, the Commerce Department reported this morning. Though spending rose 4.7 percent for the year, when adjusting for inflation, it fell 0.1 percent in the final month of 2011, breaking three months of gains and setting the tone for a slowdown in 2012.

3) Banks. Financial stocks were among the worst performers on Monday, with Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) the biggest decliner on the Dow, falling about 3 percent. Citigroup (NYSE:C), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) all declined between 1 percent and 2 percent.

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