- Dow Jones Industrial Average down 6.66 (-0.05%) to 12,496.15
- S&P 500 up 2.23 (+0.17%) to 1,318.86
- Nasdaq Composite up 11.04 (+0.39%) to 2,850.12
- Hang Seng Index 1.33%
- Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.42%
- FTSE 100 down 2.53%
U.S. stocks pared their losses late in Wednesday's trade, closing little changed after earlier trading sharply lower. Equities began their rebound after Greek officials denied prior reports the debt-laden country was actively preparing for an exit from the eurozone. A report showing that demand for new U.S. homes increased more than forecast in April also lifted stocks. Energy and material stocks were sharply lower as commodity prices sunk as the U.S. dollar surged today. A weak outlook and earnings miss by Dell (DELL) also weighed on the tech sector.
A Reuters report this morning that eurozone officials have told members of the currency area to prepare contingency plans in case Greece quits the bloc sent stocks slumping early only to turn around when the Greek finance minister labelled those reports as "false."
"The Ministry of Finance categorically denies the reports stating that during the teleconference of the Euro Working Group on May 21st 2012, it was agreed that each eurozone country should prepare contingency plans for the potential consequences of a departure of (Greece) from the single currency area," the ministry said in an emailed statement. "Such reports not only are false, but actually hinder the efforts of (Greece) to address its challenges at this critical juncture," the ministry said.
Earlier, French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy met in Paris ahead of the Brussels summit of European leaders. The new French president supports creation of eurobonds in a bid to bring down borrowing costs for the region's most debt-strapped economies. Rajoy told reporters that the high premium demanded by investors to hold Spanish bonds makes it difficult to implement needed economic reforms. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has not soften her opposition.
An upbeat report on U.S. home sales did initially little to slow today's sell-off. The Commerce Department said new single-family home sales increased 3.3% to a seasonally adjusted 343,000-unit annual rate after a 332,000-unit pace in March. Compared to April last year, new home sales rose 9.9%. Signs of life in the housing market were also bolstered by a 4.9% rise in the median price of a new home last month to $235,700. Coupled with a bullish report yesterday on existing-home sales, today's report was largely seen as another sign the housing market recovery is gaining traction.
In company news, Dell (DELL) plumbed new 52-week lows after its after-hours earnings report last night. The computer vendor posted Q1 EPS of $0.43, below the mean analyst estimate of $0.46 per share on Thomson Reuters. Revenue was $14.4 billion, or $500 million below the analyst consensus of $14.9 billion. Rival Hewlet Packard (HPQ) shares fell more than 5% today.
Also today, at least two shareholder lawsuits announced on Wednesday against Facebook (FB), its officers and directors, and the main underwriters on the IPO, which included Morgan Stanley (MS), Goldman Sachs (GS) and JPMorgan (JPM). One suit filed in federal district court in New York accused Facebook and its underwriters of "false and misleading representations and omissions" during the run-up to the IPO last week.
Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said "we believe the lawsuit is without merit and will defend ourselves vigorously." FB shares are up nearly 2% today.
Commodities are lower as the U.S. dollar strengthened. July crude oil closed $2.05 lower at $89.80 a barrel while June natural gas rose 4 cents to $2.74 per 1 million BTU. June gold fell $28.40 to finish at $1548.20 an ounce while July silver fell 66 cents to $27.49 an ounce. July copper fell 8 cents to $3.
(+) RCON Signs "major" contract with China National Petroleum Corp.
(+) STAG Prices share offering.
(-) BLK Prices secondary offering at a discount.
(-) STX Offers $186 million for LaCie SA.