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US STOCKS-Wall St down on China, Greek worry; energy gains
February 9, 2015 / 8:07 PM / 3 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St down on China, Greek worry; energy gains

* Achillion Pharma jumps on hepatitis C drug-trial results

* Qualcomm up, nears deal with China on antitrust dispute

* Indexes down: Dow 0.44 pct, S&P 0.29 pct, Nasdaq 0.22 pct (Updates to afternoon trade, commentary)

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK, Feb 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Monday due to increased tensions over Greek debt negotiations and disappointing Chinese economic data on top of investor uncertainty about interest rates.

Rising oil prices helped offset the pressure by boosting the energy sector, while utilities shares declined as investors opted instead for fixed income investments.

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had ruled out any extension of its international bailout on Sunday and announced moves to reverse some of the reforms imposed by its lenders. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday Greeks should not expect the euro zone to accept these latest terms.

Investors are waiting for the Greek situation to be resolved and found some reassurance the market did not collapse after the weekend’s news, said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O‘Neil Securities in New York.

“In the end, he’s going to be the one to blink,” he said, referring to Greece’s Tsipras. “If the market was really concerned then you’d see much more to the downside.”

National Bank of Greece’s U.S.-listed shares fell 5.7 percent to $1.12.

China’s exports fell 3.3 percent from a year ago while imports tumbled 19.9 percent, far worse than expectations, raising concerns about the world’s second-largest economy.

U.S. Treasury debt prices rose on Monday as global investors sought shelter in safe-haven sovereign debt.. This hurt utilities stocks, seen as the safest equity sector.

“I have a feeling it’s an interest-rate sensitive play,” said Terry Morris, senior vice president and senior equity manager for National Penn Investors Trust Company in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Oil prices climbed for a third straight session, lifting the S&P energy sector 0.5 percent after OPEC forecast greater demand for crude this year than previously thought.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 77.55 points, or 0.44 percent, to 17,746.74, the S&P 500 lost 5.97 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,049.5 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 10.63 points, or 0.22 percent, to 4,733.77.

Achillion Pharmaceuticals jumped 12.4 percent to $12.16 on news that its experimental hepatitis C drug, used in combination with Gilead Sciences Inc’s Sovaldi, eradicated signs of the virus after six weeks of therapy. Gilead shares rose 1 percent to $98.44.

Qualcomm shares gained 1.2 percent and helped boost the Nasdaq after a source told Reuters the company is likely to pay China a $1 billion fine, ending a 14-month government investigation into anti-competitive practices.

Despite some high-profile misses from multinationals, Thomson Reuters data through Monday morning showed 72.6 percent of the 328 S&P 500 companies in the S&P 500 that reported earnings beat expectations, above the 69 percent beat rate for the past four quarters.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,652 to 1,391, for a 1.19-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,601 issues fell and 1,095 advanced for a 1.46-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 11 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 43 new highs and 21 new lows. (Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Nick Zieminski and Meredith Mazzilli)

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