Stocks slip on Europe worries, Lowe's miss

Stocks slip on Europe worries, Lowe's miss

Credit: Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on May 8, 2012 in New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 76 points and the Nasdaq fell 11.49 points as investors continue to consider struggles in the eurozone after weekend elections that prompted political uncertainty. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Associated Press

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 20 at 3:02 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell Monday as worries flared anew about the European debt crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down five points at 13,270 at 2:40 p.m. EDT. The Standard & Poor's 500 was off one point at 1,417. And the Nasdaq composite index was down almost five points at 3,072.

In a monthly report issued Monday, the German central bank reiterated doubts about having the European Central Bank buy bonds to help struggling European economies. It stressed that such purchases could carry "substantial risks."

Earlier this month, stocks rallied after ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank might buy government bonds of some European countries to lower their borrowing costs. In comments last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had seemed to soften her stance to the idea.

In the U.S., Lowe's, the world's No. 2 home improvement store, missed earnings expectations Monday. Revenue at stores open at least a year dipped 0.4 percent, and the company cut its outlook for the year. The stock fell 6 percent.

The most valuable company in the world, Apple, became the most valuable company of all time, with a market value of $621 billion, surpassing Microsoft's record from 1999. Apple is worth twice as much the second-most valuable company, Exxon-Mobil Corp.

Apple stock rose Monday by $15.54, or 2.2 percent, to $650.05.

Stocks have been inching up for six weeks. On Friday, both the Dow and the S&P closed just below four-year highs.

Other stocks moving sharply Monday included health insurer Aetna, which announced it would buy Coventry Health Care for $5.7 billion as the insurance industry realigns itself to better navigate the health care overhaul.

Aetna rose $1.96, or 5 percent, to $40. Coventry climbed $6.861, or 20 percent, to $41.80.

The deal follows the $4.46 billion buyout last month of another insurer by WellPoint Inc., and last year's acquisition worth nearly $4 billion by Cigna of HealthSpring as it grabbed for a share of Medicare revenue.

Best Buy slid 8 percent after rejecting an offer from its founder and largest shareholder to take the electronics retailer private. The company named Hubert Joly, the former head of global hospitality company Carlson and a turnaround expert, as CEO Monday.

Facebook gained 85 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $19.90, following a slide last week after some insiders were able to sell stock for the first time since the company's public trading debut in May. The stock is down about half from its offering price of $38.

In the S&P 500, seven of the 10 main industry groups fell, led by a 0.8 percent drop in telecommunications stocks.

In Europe, stocks fell. Greek stocks fell 2 percent. Spain's main index was off 1 percent.

Investors are on edge this week because of a series of meetings among European leaders to discuss the debt crisis. The first of them came early Monday when the Greek foreign minister met with his German counterpart in Berlin to discuss Greek spending cuts necessary for the country to continue receiving bailout money.

With many traders and investors on vacation, volume on the New York Stock Exchange was light, at about 2 billion shares with an hour of trading to go. The daily average three months ago was 3.8 billion.

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