The EU agreed a framework for its first sanctions on Russia since
the Cold War, a stronger response to the Ukraine crisis than many
had expected and a mark of solidarity with Washington in the effort
to make Moscow pay for seizing Crimea.
London copper prices, a proxy for economic health due to the metal's
broad industrial use, hit their lowest since July 2010 on concerns
about credit problems in China, but later rebounded. Copper has
fallen 7.7 percent over four sessions. Spot gold hit a six-month
high on its safe-haven appeal.
"The situation in Ukraine and a slowing China are going to matter,
but they haven't mattered yet. Commodity prices are falling and that
is tied to demand," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst
at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
However, money is on the sidelines. Investors, worried about missing
another leg up in the five-year U.S. equity bull market, are keeping
indexes near recent highs.
"People think they missed out and the market is going to do the same
it did last year," she said. "There's more retail money flowing into
the system, supporting stocks."
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 11.17 points or 0.07
percent, to 16,340.08, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 0.57 points or 0.03
percent, to 1,868.2 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 16.144
points or 0.37 percent, to 4,323.332.
Geopolitical developments have moved to the forefront this week on a
lack of major corporate results and market-moving economic data. The
S&P 500 rose 30 percent last year and, after a recent decline, hit a
record high last Friday.
"We've climbed so far, to continue to climb is definitely going to
be a see-saw move," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView
Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Herbalife <HLF.N> fell 7.4 percent to $60.57 after the company said
the U.S. Federal Trade Commission had opened an inquiry into its
operations. Shares briefly fell as much as 16 percent.
[to top of second column]
Shares of Fannie Mae <FNMA.OB> and Freddie Mac <FMCC.OB> fell
sharply, a day after leaders of the Senate Banking Committee
announced an agreement on legislation to wind down the
government-owned mortgage financiers. Fannie lost 12.2 percent to
$3.54 and Freddie fell 16.8 percent to $3.36.
EPL Oil & Gas Inc <EPL.N> jumped 28.8 percent to $37.50 after the
company agreed to be acquired by larger rival Energy XXI Ltd <EXXI.O>
for $2.3 billion including debt. Energy XXI shares lost 7.8 percent
Express Inc <EXPR.N> dropped 12 percent to $16.05 after the apparel
retailer reported fourth-quarter earnings and forecast a profit for
the current quarter that fell far short of analyst expectations.
Oxigene Inc <OXGN.O> surged 77.3 percent to $4.29. The company said
its experimental drug Zybrestat, combined with Roche's <ROG.VX>
cancer drug Avastin, significantly slowed progression of recurrent
ovarian cancer better than Avastin alone in a mid-stage clinical
Geron Corp <GERN.O> plunged 61.6 percent to $1.69. The company said
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered a halt to trials of a
cancer drug over concerns about potential liver damage.
About 6.4 billion shares traded in U.S. exchanges, according to the
latest available data from BATS Global Markets, below the 6.9
billion daily average so far this month.
Advancers outnumbered decliners by about 7 to 5 on the NYSE and on
the Nasdaq 9 issues rose for every 7 that fell.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; additional
reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Nick Zieminski)
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