Stocks Fall on Oil, European Concerns

By: From CNN Money
By: From CNN Money

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks sold off late Wednesday to end the day lower on concerns about the debt crisis in Europe and falling oil prices.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 77 points, or 0.6%, to end at 12,496. The S&P 500 fell 9 points, or 0.7%, to 1,315. The Nasdaq slid 24 points, or 0.8%, to 2,818.

Stocks opened lower and drifted between small gains and losses for most of the day as investors focused on mixed economic reports and Congressional testimony by JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon.

But the selling accelerated in the afternoon as oil prices gave up earlier gains, ending the day down 0.8%. "Oil prices ticked lower and stocks followed," said Ben Schwartz, chief market strategist at Lightspeed Financial.

Meanwhile, ongoing concerns about the debt crisis in Europe continue to weigh on the market.

Investors are worried about Spain, which recently requested up to €100 billion to recapitalize insolvent banks. Egan-Jones cut its credit rating on Spanish government debt to "CCC+" from "B."

Italy has been under pressure amid fears the debt crisis is spreading to the core of the eurozone. Greece is also in focus ahead of a crucial election this weekend.

"There's a lot of nervousness about the Greek election and the euro coming apart," said Schwartz.

Earlier in the day, investors were focused on Capitol Hill, where Dimon told lawmakers that he could not defend the trades that led to the bank's multi-billion dollar loss.

Dimon blamed the loss on insufficient risk controls and a failure by traders to understand the bets they were placing. But he refused to say that JPMorgan was using trades from its chief investment office to make money. JPMorgan (JPM, Fortune 500) shares rose 1.4%.

Despite the immediate concerns, many investors expect stocks to move higher later in the year. There is widespread speculation that the Federal Reserve will take additional steps to support the economy if conditions continue to deteriorate.
Fear & Greed Index

Investment strategists surveyed by CNNMoney said the S&P 500 could rise more than 8% from its current level, which would translate into a 14% gain for the year.

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