Greek default worries send stocks lower

The Dow fell 33 points to close at 12676 Tuesday on concerns that a deal to prevent a default by Greece might fall through

Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Trader Steven Kaplan works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks closed lower Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2011 amid rumors that a deal to prevent Greece's default might fall through.

Stocks fell Tuesday on concerns that a deal to prevent a default by Greece might fall through.

A slew of U.S. corporate earnings Tuesday also did little to bolster investors' confidence.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 33 points at 12,676. It has risen or fallen less than 100 points in 13 trading sessions, the longest calm stretch since March and April of last year.

The Standard & Poor's 500 lost a point to close at 1,315. It's only the third time the S&P has ended lower this year — all those declines have been less than 7 points. So far this year, it's up about 4.5 percent.

The Nasdaq added 2 points Tuesday to close at 2,787 after a day of wavering between small gains and losses. Tech stocks could be in for a strong day Wednesday after Apple Inc. reported sharply higher earnings after the market closed Tuesday, trouncing analysts' estimates.

Rising stocks slightly outnumbered falling ones on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was lighter than average at 3.7 billion shares.

Treasury prices rose Tuesday from their lowest levels this year on uncertainty about whether Greece will reach a deal with its creditors. That drew money back into safer investments.

In Europe, Greece's stock market index fell 5.5 percent. Stocks fell less than 1 percent in Germany, France and Spain and ended slightly higher in Italy.

A deal between the Greek government and the banks that hold Greek national bonds is considered crucial to the stability of the European financial system. Investors fear that if Greece can't pay its debt, it could trigger a panic.

"There's a lot of apprehension about the unknowns," said Brian Gendreau, market strategist for El Segundo, Calif.-based Cetera Financial Group. "It's not what people think they know about Europe. It's what they worry they don't know."

Greece is trying to get its creditors to swap Greek government bonds for new ones that have half the face value. But agreeing on a new interest rate has been a stumbling block. Greece faces an important bond repayment deadline in March.

In U.S. news, a number of lower-than-expected earnings also added to investors' concerns.

Kimberly-Clark Corp., which makes Kleenex tissues, Huggies diapers and a number of other household goods, said rising costs pushed its net income down 19 percent in the fourth quarter. The stock fell 1.5 percent.

Chemical maker DuPont Co. said its fourth-quarter net income dipped as lower sales and higher costs overshadowed higher prices. The results still beat analysts' expectations and the stock was flat.

Coal producer Peabody Energy Corp. fell 2 percent after its forecast for the first quarter fell well short of expectations. The stock fell 4 percent.

Leading the pack of companies trading higher after reporting earnings, bag and accessories maker Coach Inc. gained 5.8 percent after quarterly net income rose almost 15 percent because of stronger holiday sales.

Among other stocks making large moves:

Zions Bancorporation fell 7.5 percent, the most of any stock in the S&P 500, after the Salt Lake City bank reported income that fell far short of Wall Street's expectations. At least one analyst downgraded the stock.

— Hard disk drive maker Western Digital Corp. was one of the top gainers in the S&P after reporting that its results handily beat Wall Street's expectations. The stock jumped 6.3 percent.

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