Global stocks tread water on Greek uncertainty, oil falls

Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:34pm EST
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks markets around the world clung to modest gains on Thursday, with European equities retreating from seven-year highs, after Germany rejected a Greek proposal to extend its bailout and as oil prices dropped.

Government borrowing costs fell across the euro zone and the euro lost ground against the yen and dollar.

Despite the German rejection, Greece's wording of a document seen by Reuters appeared to cooperate substantially with the terms laid out by euro zone finance ministers in earlier negotiations.

"At this point, investors think that even if a deal is reached, it won't mean that the 'Greek issue' will be resolved," said Mirabaud Securities senior equity sales trader John Plassard in Geneva. "There will be serious doubts on whether Greece will fully implement the agreement."

The Greek request for a six-month extension to its euro zone loan agreement came as it was only weeks away from running out of cash. Crucially, Greece agreed the plan would be monitored by the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, a retreat by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had vowed to end cooperation with 'troika' inspectors.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended down 43.31 points, or 0.24 percent, to 17,986.54, the S&P 500 .SPX closed down 2.2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,097.48 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC finished up 18.34 points, or 0.37 percent, to 4,924.70. [.N]

Nasdaq reached a 15-year high at 4,929.527 points.

FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 of top European shares closed up 0.3 percent at 1,520.22 after hitting a seven-year high of 1.522.25. [.EU]   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange February 18, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid