Stocks Are Muted Ahead Of Emergency Meeting On Greek Debt

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks were slightly lower in midday trading Wednesday. Investors have their focus turned to Europe, where an emergency meeting of finance ministers will address Greece's appeal for more generous bailout conditions. Energy stocks were among the biggest decliners as the price of oil fell.


KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was down 32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,837 as of 12:04 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down a point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,068 and the Nasdaq composite rose 19 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,806.


GREEK DRAMA: Finance ministers from nations that use the euro are holding an emergency meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, which will be the group's first opportunity to hear directly from Greece's new government. Greece wants to renegotiate the terms of its international bailout, which has imposed years of punishing austerity on the country. The current agreement expires in late February. Speculation that Greece could be granted extra time to hold new negotiations lifted markets Tuesday. Greek stocks fell 4 percent.


THE QUOTE: "The headlines out of this meeting will dictate the price action for global markets," Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG, said in a commentary. "At the moment, it seems European leaders and Greece are willing to meet each other in the middle and this has comforted investors' concerns after the aggressive tone by Greek Prime Minister Tsipras over the weekend."


ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 70 cents to $49.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.84 to close at $50.02 a barrel on Tuesday. The International Energy Agency said that the recent rebound in oil prices "will be comparatively limited."

         Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the two largest publicly traded energy companies, were down 1 percent each in morning trading.


CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 120.38 yen from 119.35 yen. The euro inched down to $1.1291 from $1.1319.


BONDS: U.S. government bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.02 percent.

         – by AP Reporter Ken Sweet



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