Global stocks, dollar fall on weak data, Europe
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stocks and the dollar fell on Wednesday as weak U.S. economic data and concerns about Europe's long-simmering debt crisis weighed on sentiment.
Investors snapped up safe-haven assets such as gold and government debt. Oil prices eased after initially rising on U.S. government data that showed U.S. crude edged down 191,000 barrels last week for a second straight week of declines.
Shares of JPMorgan (JPM.N: Quote) rose above $35 at one point, the biggest contributor to gains in the benchmark S&P 500 early in the session. JPMorgan's stock trimmed its gains to trade up 1.6 percent at $34.30, as no damning news came out of Chief Executive Jamie Dimon's testimony before Congress on the firm's multibillion-dollar trading loss.
Investors are expected to remain skittish ahead of a Greek vote on Sunday and on fears that Spain's financing problems may spread to Italy. The question of whether Greece will remain in the euro zone after the election and the potential impact of Europe's woes on global growth took a toll on sentiment.
"I would expect a fair amount of market volatility one way or the other," said Michael James, senior trader at regional investment bank Wedbush Morgan in Los Angeles.
"But I don't think the result of the election is going to be anywhere close to a resolution of the issues facing Greece or the issues facing European countries in general," he said.
U.S. stocks traded near break-even for most of the session before falling late in the day. European stocks closed down while shares of emerging markets rose and an index of global stocks edged higher, helped by earlier gains in Asia.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed down 77.42 points, or 0.62 percent, at 12,496.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 9.30 points, or 0.70 percent, at 1,314.88. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC slid 24.46 points, or 0.86 percent, at 2,818.61. Continued...