Dollars & Sense

Closing Bell | Most regional stocks slide, led by Sprint

Updated: 2013-03-25T21:46:37Z

Stocks reversed an early rise on Wall Street Monday as traders returned to worrying about the European economy.

Optimism about a deal to prevent financial collapse in Cyprus had briefly pushed the Standard & Poor's 500 index to within a quarter-point of its record closing high, but stocks soon turned negative.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite index both closed down 0.3 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.4 percent. The BATS 1000 fell 60.94 points, or .4 percent, to 17,542.49.

Stocks turned negative about an hour into the trading day Monday as the initial euphoria about Cyprus' deal to secure 10 billion euros in emergency funding was overshadowed by renewed concerns about the European economy.

The fear intensified after a top European official indicated that investors in struggling banks may be forced to take losses – an element of the Cyprus agreement that had previously been seen as unique to that country.

All ten industry groups in the S&P 500 closed lower, with industrial and materials companies posting the biggest losses. Network technology company VMware Inc. dove after the website Business Insider reported that PayPal and eBay will remove its software from 80,000 servers. The stock fell $3.65, or 4.6 percent, to $76.50.

Among the biggest drags on the S&P 500 index were software maker Red Hat Inc., online marketplace eBay Inc. and Textron Inc., an aerospace and defense contractor.

Europe still needs a long-term economic fix, said David Kelly, chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds. Business activity in the 17 nations using the euro has declined continually since September 2011, according to research by Markit, a data provider. The region's economy shrank 0.6 percent in 2012, according official government statistics.

Business activity in nations that use the euro contracted more quickly in March, according to Markit's closely-watched survey of purchasing executives, which was published Thursday. The index had its worst decline in four months.

European policy makers have avoided a financial crisis by flooding the market with cash, but they haven't addressed economic hardship on the ground, Kelly said. In granting Cyprus' emergency rescue, for example, lenders demanded economic reforms, debt payments and a banking overhaul that will result in heavy losses for bank bondholders and shareholders. In addition, people with more than 100,000 euros in their accounts will lose up to 40 percent of their deposits.

Kelly said that's tough to swallow for people facing high unemployment and government cutbacks in Greece, Italy, Spain and other countries that received bailouts.

“If they're going to end up broke anyway,” Kelly said, it will be “harder and harder for people to make the sacrifices that Europe is demanding of them.” That could lead voters in bailed-out countries to resist lenders' terms, increasing political and economic instability in Europe and weighing on global markets, he said.

That concern intensified Monday after a key official indicated that the Cyprus rescue may serve as a model in other nations with struggling banks.

“If the bank can't do it, then we'll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we'll ask them to contribute in recapitalizing the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of finance ministers from nations that use the euro, in an interview with the Financial Times and Reuters. Dijsselbloem's office confirmed the remarks.

Regional stocks

Capitol Federal Financial rose 2 cents, or 0.17%, to close at $11.95.

Cerner Corp. fell 57 cents, or 0.61%, to close at $92.52.

Commerce Bancshares Inc. rose 24 cents, or 0.59%, to close at $40.60.

Compass Minerals fell 2 cents, or 0.03%, to close at $76.73.

DST Systems Inc. fell 1 cents, or 0.01%, to close at $69.36.

Ferrellgas Partners L.P. fell 13 cents, or 0.65%, to close at $19.92.

Garmin Ltd. rose 19 cents, or 0.57%, to close at $33.44.

Great Plains Energy fell 9 cents, or 0.40%, to close at $22.64.

H&R Block Inc. rose 14 cents, or 0.49%, to close at $28.46.

Inergy L.P. fell 20 cents, or 0.98%, to close at $20.28.

Kansas City Life Insurance Co. rose 13 cents, or 0.33%, to close at $39.10.

Kansas City Southern fell 85 cents, or 0.79%, to close at $106.71.

Layne Christensen Co. rose 8 cents, or 0.36%, to close at $22.08.

O'Reilly Automotive Inc. rose 7 cents, or 0.07%, to close at $103.33.

Sprint Nextel Corp. fell 11 cents, or 1.79%, to close at $6.03.

UMB Financial Corp. rose 24 cents, or 0.50%, to close at $48.71.

Waddell & Reed Financial Corp. fell 31 cents, or 0.72%, to close at $42.78.

YRC Worldwide Inc. fell 43 cents, or 5.13%, to close at $7.95.

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