Market Recap: Stocks Take a Breather

Markets closed down on Wall Street today: Dow -0.21%, S&P -0.33%, Nasdaq -0.52%, Oil -0.26%, Gold +1.12%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $105.97 a barrel. Precious metals were mixed, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,778.20 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 0.20% to settle at $34.43.

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Today’s markets were down because:

1) Greece. Investors remained skeptical about the bailout for Greece, approved by euro-zone finance ministers on Tuesday, after Fitch lowered the credit rating on Greek debt from “CCC” to “C”, indicating that the ratings agency believes default is “highly likely in the near term.” While the deal means Greece will stay in the euro, and suggests it will avoid default in the near term, analysts warn that the nation will eventually need more support, and that Greece’s fate also depends on whether private-sector investors agree to accept a massive writedown on their holdings of Greek debt.

2) Housing. Existing-home sales rose 4.3 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million homes, the highest level since May 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. Record affordability driven by low home prices and mortgage rates helped drive sales, pushing down inventories.

3) Companies. Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) was decidedly the most disappointing earnings call on Tuesday as the company reported results that missed expectations, pushing shares down 6 percent. Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) reported a $2.79 million loss on Wednesday, a significant reversal compared to the $3.42 million it made in profit last year. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was also in the spotlight today as the tech giant faced China’s Proview International in a Shanghai courtroom on allegations that it does now own the rights to the iPad trademark in China, while Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares were dealt a heavy blow in the form of Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) new “Streampix” video-on-demand service, though Comcast says the service is not meant to compete with Netflix.

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