Stocks mixed on uncertainty in Europe

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NEW YORK: (AP) – U.S. stocks were mixed in midday trading Monday, reflecting market uncertainty about how an election in Greece of a party opposed to that country s bailout plan may affect the Eurozone. Investors also weighed corporate merger news and company earnings.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial fell 31 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,641 as of 12:46 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor s 500 shed less than one point to 2,051. The Nasdaq composite added four points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,762.

GREEK ELECTION: Sunday s election victory by Greece s Syriza party, which has vowed to end painful austerity policies, has raised concerns about whether Greece will break free from the continent s monetary block. The country s current bailout plan concludes at the end of February.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany s DAX rose 1.4 percent, while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.7 percent.

THE QUOTE: “European markets reflected worse expectations for the outcome of this election and, as a result, they re seeing this as better-than-expected news,” said Kate Warne, an investment strategist at Edward Jones. “Whereas U.S. markets are reacting to what uncertainty can come as a result of it.”

SECTOR VIEW: Half of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 moved lower, and utilities stocks dropped the most. Energy stocksled the gainers as oil prices rebounded after slipping earlier in the day.

BAD MEMORY: Computer hard drive makers Seagate Technology and Western Digital were among the biggest decliners in the S&P 500 after Seagate reported weakness out of Europe. Seagate sank $5.56, or 8.7 percent, to $58.40, while Western Digital shed $5.92, or 5.6 percent, to $100.18.

TOYLAND TURNOVER: Mattel shares slid 3.9 percent on news that CEO Bryan Stockton resigned after about three years of leading the struggling toymaker. Mattel also reported preliminary fourth-quarter results that fell short of Wall Street expectations. The stock fell $1.08 to $26.96.

PACKAGED MERGER: Packaging company MeadWestvaco has agreed to merge with Rock-Tenn Co. to create a $16 billion company, which will be named before the deal closes. MeadWestvaco jumped 15 percent, to lead all stocks in the S&P 500. The stock gained $6.73 to $51.79. Rock-Tenn vaulted $4.46, or 7.1 percent, to $67.45.

BUYING BREAKFAST: Post Holdings jumped 13.2 percent on news that the company has agreed to acquire privately held MOM Brands in a deal that involves $1.05 billion in cash and nearly 2.5 million shares of stock. MOM s products include cereals, hot wheat and oatmeal products. Post shares gained $5.54 to $46.98.

SHARING RISK: Reinsurers Axis Capital Holdings and PartnerRe are combining in an $11 billion deal. Investors cheered the news, lifting Axis shares $2.60, or 5.3 percent, to $51.91. PartnerRe gained $1.05 to $115.19.

ELECTION AFTERMATH: In Greece, the main stock market recouped some of its early losses to trade 3.2 percent lower, a sign that investors are not as jittery as they may have been in the initial aftermath of the election.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 46 cents to $46.06 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil has plunged since June, when it traded above $107. The death of Saudi Arabia s King Abdullah late last week is unlikely to change Saudi s oil production levels, a key factor in the global prices, analysts have said. But his death has created a small amount of additional uncertainty.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.80 percent.

2015-01-27

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