Stocks trimmed their losses heading into Wednesday's close, finishing with narrow declines after ongoing political uncertainty in Italy overtook Cyprus as traders' primary worry. The Nasdaq managed to end just in the green. The Dow Jones Industrial Average backed away from yesterday's all-time high while the S&P 500 remain stalled just two points away from its best-ever close.
Italy Is A 'Mess'
Stocks fell earlier Wednesday after efforts to form an Italian coalition government failed. The head of Italy's center-left alliance, Pier Luigi Bersani, ruled out forming a coalition government and said that only an "insane person" would want to govern Italy, later saying the country is a "mess".
Elsewhere in Europe, Cypriot authorities were expected to announce capital controls later Wednesday in preparation for the country's supposed reopening of its banks on Thursday. The banks have been shuttered since March 16 to prevent a run on deposits.
On the domestic front, data showed contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes fell last month, held back by a shortage of properties although there was little to suggest the housing market recovery was stalling. The National Association of Realtors said its U.S. Pending Home Sales Index slipped 0.4% during February. Economists had been expecting a 0.2%decline.
Commodity prices were mixed, with oil down $0.45, at $95.89 a barrel. Natural gas pushed through the $4 mark, up $0.063 to $4.054 per million BTUs.
Gold futures were up $5.90 at $1603.20 per ounce, while silver slipped $0.204 to $28.475 per ounce. Copper was up $0.0015 to $3.444.
Here's Where The Markets Stood At Day's End
- Dow Jones Industrial Average down 33.49 (-0.23%) to 14,526.16
- S&P 500 down 0.92 (-0.06%) to 1,566.85
- Nasdaq Composite Index up 4.04 (+0.12%) to 3,256.52
- Hang Seng Index up 0.69%
- Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.14%
- FTSE 100 Index down 0.24%
- (+) UTSI, Shah Capital Management offered to buy the company's outstanding shares for $3.20 apiece.
- (+) TROV, Said its urine-based test for the human papillomavirus test is now commercially available.
- (+) RVLT, Climbs to new 52-week higher after introducing a new lighting product - a 15-watt tube lamp from LED manufacturer Seesmart acquired in December.
- (-) ALLT, Speculation that the European recession is limiting orders to the company.
- (-) ASTM, Said it is cutting about half of its workforce and making a strategic change in research and development programs.
- (-) GV, Net income increases during 2012 to $0.47 per share from $0.03 per share in 2011. Revenue climbs 148% to $81.6 million.
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