Top 3 Reasons Markets Were Down on Italian Fears

Markets closed down on Wall Street today: Dow -1.2o%, S&P -1.81%, Nasdaq -2.00%, Oil -1.09%, Gold +0.77%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) continued to fall, now down to $95.15. And in an unusual move, precious metals were mixed, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) up $12 to $1,553.60 an ounce and Silver (NYSE:SLV) down 1.94% to $35.84 an ounce.

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Today’s markets were down because:

1) Italy. Italy (NYSE:EWI) is the latest Euro-Zone country in danger of being contaminated by Greece’s ongoing debt crisis. While it’s not in such dire straits as Portugal and Ireland, it is by far the largest economy in danger, and as a result Europe’s banking sector is significantly more exposed to Italian debt. Italy has the third highest level of government debt after the U.S. and Japan. See Why Investors Must Watch Italy Like Hawks.

2) Banks. Banks (NYSE:KBE) were the leading decliners on the Dow’s 30 components, with Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) shares down 3.27% and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) shares down 3.22%. The S&P 500 was also down, with a 3% selloff in financial stocks leading all 10 index subsectors lower. Financials (NYSE:XLF) were a big reason why the NYSE was down today, with decliners outnumbering gainers by more than 6 to 1.

3) Still hungover from Friday. Friday wasn’t a good day. The markets were way down after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their monthly jobs report, showing that there was essentially no job growth in June and that unemployment had increased by 545,000 since March. News that May’s job growth was less than half of original assessments had Americans knocking back another shot. And that’s not the kind of thing you recover from quickly. The U.S. economy is not at all improving at the rate Americans had hoped, and it doesn’t help that we still haven’t heard much news from Congress or the White House to lead us to believe a debt ceiling decision is near at hand.

Bonus: Alcoa, Inc. Earnings: Margins Expand For Fifth Straight Quarter, Net Income Rises.