U.S. Stocks Edge Lower, Pulling Dow Back From A Record High

NEW YORK (AP) — Falling oil prices and disappointing U.S. home sales data nudged major indexes mostly lower in midday trading Monday. Energy stocks were among the biggest decliners. Investors also monitored the latest batch of corporate earnings and deal news.


KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 37 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,103 as of 12:16 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost two points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,107. The Nasdaq composite rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,958. The market is coming off an all-time high reached last week.


HOMES SALES PLUNGE: The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously occupied homes tumbled 4.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million. That brings sales down to their lowest level since last April. Weak sales last year set up expectations of a strong rebound this year, yet signs of that resurgence have yet to appear. Homebuilder shares slumped on the news. Century Communities declined the most, shedding 77 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $17.61.


THE QUOTE: "The home numbers are a little disappointing," said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management.


SECTOR WATCH: Seven of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 fell, with energy stocks notching the biggest decline. Health care stocks led the gainers.


GETTING DRILLED: Several offshore oil drilling and services companies tumbled in early trading. Ensco shed $1.08, or 3.6 percent, to $28.68. Denbury Resources lost 30 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $8.61. Nabors Industries shed 56 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $12.96. Transocean fell 56 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $16.45.


FLAT TIRE: Shares in Cooper Tire & Rubber fell 7.5 percent after the tire maker reported fourth-quarter earnings that fell short of what Wall Street analysts had expected. The stock shed $2.83 to $34.88.


DRUGMAKERS COMBINE: Shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International surged a day after the Canadian drugmaker announced it has agreed to buy Salix Pharmaceuticals for about $10 billion in cash. Valeant rose $28.76, or 13.2 percent, to $246.17. Shares in Salix slipped $1.85, or 1.2 percent, to $156.


BACK TO BLACK: Tower Semiconductor reported a profit during its fourth quarter after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier. Shares in the chipmaker vaulted $2.71, or 20 percent, to $16.40.


SELLING MOOD: Polypore International surged 12.7 percent on news the company is selling its energy storage business to Asahi Kasei for $2.2 billion after it sells another segment to 3M for $1 billion. The stock gained $6.75 to $59.70.


METALS MARRIAGE: Globe Specialty Metals is merging with European rival metal producer Grupo FerroAtlantica. The combination creates a new London-based company worth about $3.1 billion. Shares in Globe Specialty Metals added $1.02, or 6.6 percent, to $16.39.


APPLE INVESTMENT: Shares in Apple rose on news that the iPhone maker will invest about $2 billion in data centers in Denmark and Ireland that will power iTunes and other online services. The stock added $2.19, or 1.7 percent, to $131.68.


OVERSEAS MARKETS: In Europe, France's CAC 40 rose 0.7 percent and Germany's DAX gained 0.7 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.7 percent and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.4 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was little changed after trading reopened following Lunar New Year holidays.


GREECE'S DEAL: Greece and its European creditors reached an agreement that staved off the threat of bankruptcy and exit from the euro, though hurdles remain to cementing the short-term funding deal. The four-month extension averted bankruptcy and capital controls and ensures banks will have enough money to stock up their ATMs. But the Greek government must present economic reform measures by the end of Monday that are deemed acceptable by creditors and rooted in Greece's previously enacted bailout agreement, which is something the government had promised not to do.


ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.48 to $49.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.02 on Friday to $50.81.


BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.08 percent from 2.11 percent late Friday.

         – by AP Reporter Alex Veiga



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