US stocks flat as Europe debt fears linger (Lead)

February 28th, 2012 - 7:58 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Feb 28 (IANS) US stocks ended flat Monday as positive US housing sales data offset the lingering European debt concerns, Xinhua reported.

The Dow Jones industrial average was trading in positive territory for most of the session after rebounding from a 100-point drop at the market open, but it turned lower in the last minutes and failed to settle above the key psychological level of 13,000. The blue-chip index dipped 1.44 points, or 0.01 percent, at 12,981.51.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 1.85 points, or 0.14 percent, to 1,367.59, which was the highest close since June 2008. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 2.41 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,966.16.

In the earlier trading session, the stocks traded lower as concerns about European ongoing debt crisis re-surfaced. The highly-awaited Group of 20 meeting over the weekend ended up with few exciting outcomes.

Disappointingly, the G20 finance ministers and central bankers didn’t work out an agreement on providing more rescue funds to the debt-burdened Europe.

They asked the euro zone to raise extra funds to fight against the ongoing crisis before it turned to the rest of the world.

Besides, the crude oil prices snapped the 7-day rally on a weak sentiment, pulling down the energy sector. Recently, crude prices kept rising as the Iran supplies disruption risks lingered on the markets.

Since this year’s beginning, New York crude benchmark WTI and London Brent crude have risen over 10 percent.

On the economic front, the National Association of Realtors said that pending US house sales rose 2.0 percent in January, reaching a nearly 2-year high and indicating a strengthening recovery in the US housing market. This lifted the Dow Jones home construction index and the Nasdaq’s housing sector.

Among the key S&P; sectors, banks and consumer discretionary rose, while energy slipped. Thanks to Warren Buffet’s supports, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JP Morgan were among the most biggest gainers, rising respectively 2.82 percent, 2.03 percent and 2.04 percent. Big energy company Exxon Mobil Corp. dipped 0.13 percent.

In other markets, the euro retreated from previous highs against the US greenback as the Greek debt concerns resurfaced. The dollar index climbed about 0.5 percent. Gold contracts dropped moderately on the strengthening dollar and profits-taking.

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