Global stocks edge up despite Greece; oil falls sharply

Mon Dec 29, 2014 3:50pm EST
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By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares edged higher in major markets on Monday despite a flight to safety triggered by a sell-off in Greek bonds, while crude oil prices tumbled after a short-lived bounce.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras failed to get enough support for his presidential nominee and will call a national election for Jan. 25. Stocks in Athens .ATG plunged as much as 11.3 percent before closing down 3.9 percent, while yields on 10-year Greek bonds GR10YT=RR touched their highest since September 2013.

Greece's Syriza party, which could come out ahead in the election, wants to wipe out a big part of the country's debt and cancel the terms of a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund that Athens needs in order to pay its bills.

"Greece is always worth paying attention to, but it’s a hiccup," said Mark Martiak, senior wealth strategist at Premier Wealth/First Allied Securities in New York. "I don’t see it as anything that makes a difference in the overall market."

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 hit yet another intraday record high, boosted by gains in consumer and bank stocks, among others. Consumer discretionary names were among the day's biggest gainers, with the sector .SPLRCD up 0.6 percent.

"The nearer-term picture is, consumers are enjoying lower gas prices; it’s almost as if it is an alleviation of taxes," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 3.12 points, or 0.02 percent, at 18,056.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was up 3.84 points, or 0.18 percent, at 2,092.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 2.20 points, or 0.05 percent, at 4,809.06.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed up 0.15 percent and an MSCI gauge of major equity markets .MIWD00000PUS edged up 0.2 percent.   Continued...

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the German share price index DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange on December 29, 2014. REUTERS/Remote/Stringer