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May 14, 2012, 5:14 p.m. EDT

U.S. stocks drop to 3-month lows on Europe fears

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By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks closed at more than three-month lows Monday, and the Dow industrials slid for the eighth session in nine, as investors worried about Greece’s potential exit from the euro zone.

“The market appears to be discounting a Greek exit from the euro,” said Linda Duessel, senior equity strategist at Federated Investors Inc.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.98%  ended down 125.25 points, or 1%, at 12,695.35, its lowest close since Jan. 31, after Greek politicians over the weekend failed to reach an agreement on a unity government, raising the likelihood of new elections and the risk of halted international aid payments.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. /zigman2/quotes/205971034/composite JPM +6.19%  led decliners on the Dow, with a drop of 3.2%, followed by a 2.6% drop in Bank of America Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200894270/composite BAC +5.94%  shares.

Click to Play

Europe facing a 'Lehman' moment?

One of Poland's top bankers said the euro-zone crisis was could head in a direction that may be as bad as the start of the 2008 financial crisis. (Photo: Aris Messinis/Press Pool)

Ina Drew became the first high-ranking casualty of the scandal that has put a dent in J.P. Morgan’s reputation, with the bank saying that the chief investment officer is resigning after more than 30 years with the bank. Read more about Drew’s exit from J.P. Morgan after trading losses.

J.P. Morgan’s $2 billion trading loss sharpens the battle over financial regulation, with presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney favoring the repeal of the Dodd-Frank law, which is supported by President Barack Obama. It also prompted Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat running for U.S. Senate, to call on J.P. Morgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon to resign from the board of the New York Federal Reserve.

The S&P 500 Index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.86%  slid 19.64 points, or 1.5%, to 1,338.35, its lowest close since Feb. 2. Financials led the slide among its 10 sectors, all of which ended lower.

With the S&P 500 starting off the day about 5% from recent highs, not much “damage” has been done, according to Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG LLC. Declines of 7% are perfectly normal, and would not be all that worrisome, he said.

In executive shake-ups, electronics retailer Best Buy Co. /zigman2/quotes/205918291/composite BBY +0.32%  said founder Richard Schulze would step down as chairman following a board probe that concluded he failed to report allegations of personal misconduct by former chief Brian Dunn to its audit committee. Shares rose 1.5%. Read more on Best Buy.

Stocks down at closing bell

The latest news from Steve Orr, including the closing numbers and J.P. Morgan Chase's executive departure in the wake of a massive trading loss.

Scott Thompson on Sunday stepped down as Yahoo Inc.’s  chief executive, with the resignation coming 10 days after hedge-fund activist Daniel Loeb accused him of faking a computer-science degree. Ross Levinsohn has been named interim chief. Shares rose 2%. Read more on Yahoo.

Shares of Groupon Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207356672/composite GRPN +0.50%  rallied more than 18% ahead of first-quarter results after the close from the daily-deal company. Read more on Groupon after hours.

The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.59%  declined 31.24 points, or 1.1%, to 2,902.58, its lowest close since Feb. 6.

For every stock rising five fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 803 million shares traded. NYSE composite volume topped 3.6 billion.

Gold futures /zigman2/quotes/210036777/delayed GCM22 +0.10%   closed at a 2012 low, with the contract for June delivery losing $23, or 1.5%, to end at $1,561 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Read more on gold futures.

Oil prices also ended their floor session at their lowest level so far this year, with the crude contract for June delivery /zigman2/quotes/207741460/composite C +6.07%   down $1.35 to finish at $94.78 a barrel. Read more on oil futures.

In Greece, a political stalemate entered a second week with no agreement on a unity government. Greek, Spanish and Italian bond yields spiked, and European stocks dropped. German government yields, like U.S. Treasurys, fell as investors sought the two countries’ debt as relative safe havens. Read more on dropping bond yields.


“No region has done more to insulate itself from a Greek exit than Germany, where banks’ consolidated risk exposure to Greece fell from $34 billion at the end of 2010 to $13 billion at the end of 2011,” said Duessel of Federated Investors. “U.S. banks had less than $4.5 billion of exposure to Greek debt at the end of 2011.”

As for the debt crisis engulfing Spain, also in the lower Mediterranean, “the cost of ensuring against a Spanish default is now more expensive than for Hungary,” Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, noted in an email. Read more on European bond spreads.

Boockvar also noted that shares of London-traded shares of De La Rue hit a 52-week high on Monday, with the analyst calling it another indication of what the market thinks of the chances of Greece remaining in the euro. De La Rue /zigman2/quotes/206574260/delayed UK:DLAR -1.92%  makes physical currency, and if Greece exits the euro, “a lot of drachma will have to be created and De La Rue would be the likely maker of it.”

US : Dow Jones Global
+618.34 +1.98%
Volume: 405.83M
May 23, 2022 5:43p
$ 124.60
+7.26 +6.19%
Volume: 24.38M
May 23, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$344.63 billion
Rev. per Employee
$ 35.87
+2.01 +5.94%
Volume: 69.08M
May 23, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$272.81 billion
Rev. per Employee
+72.39 +1.86%
Volume: 2.39B
May 23, 2022 5:43p
$ 72.59
+0.23 +0.32%
Volume: 7.66M
May 23, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$16.30 billion
Rev. per Employee
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 12.13
+0.06 +0.50%
Volume: 1.05M
May 23, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$361.62 million
Rev. per Employee
US : Nasdaq
+180.66 +1.59%
Volume: 3.91M
May 23, 2022 5:16p
US : U.S.: Nymex
$ 1,849.60
+1.80 +0.10%
Volume: 15,484
May 24, 2022 2:29a
$ 52.77
+3.02 +6.07%
Volume: 35.17M
May 23, 2022 4:03p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$96.61 billion
Rev. per Employee
UK : U.K.: London
112.40 p
-2.20 -1.92%
Volume: 40,903
May 23, 2022 4:35p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
£223.65 million
Rev. per Employee

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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