Stocks ended lower in light trading Wednesday, with the S&P 500 posting its fifth-straight decline, as investors remained on edge over ongoing financial worries in the euro zone.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined for a fourth day, falling 44.04 points, or 0.33 percent, to close at 13,413.51, dragged by AmEx and BofA. Meanwhile, H-P reversed losses to lead the gainers after hitting an eight-year low earlier this morning.
The S&P 500 slumped 8.27 points, or 0.57 percent, to finish at 1,433.32. The Nasdaq dropped 24.03 points, or 0.77 percent, to end at 3,093.70.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, jumped near 17.
Among the key S&P sectors, energy and techs led the laggards, while utilities eked out a gain.
“Everyone’s concerned right now—you want to have a strong finish to the quarter, but all of a sudden, you have a few people on the field falling back and you don’t want to be the only one running,” said Joe Greco of Meridian Equity Partners. (Read More: Honeymoon Over as Markets Brace for Volatile Times)
European sharestumbled sharply amid violent anti-austerity demonstrations in Greece and Spain. Yields on 10-year Spanish bonds soared above 6 percent. (Read More: Just When Investors Thought Europe Was Finally Fixed...)
The euro hit a two-week lowagainst the U.S. greenback. Oil fell below $90 a barrelfor the first time since August 3, while gold declined more than 1 percent.
“We’ve moved from the focus on the streets of Madrid to the streets of Athens, but you can’t pass up Spain—I’m afraid that they are teetering near a constitutional crisis,” said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services. “And if the leaders keep dillydallying, the streets could take over and that will not be a good thing.”
Among techs, Apple declined for a third-straight session to end near $665 a share. (Read More: Buy Apple on the Dips?) Meanwhile, Google turned higher, to close at an all-time high. Both Canaccord Genuity and Baird raised their price target on the search-engine giant to $850 from $700 and $750, respectively.
Research In Motion continued to rally after the BlackBerry maker announced better-than-expected subscriber figuresand said its new smartphone will go on sale in early 2013.
Yahoo named Ken Goldman as its new CFO, who will succeed Tim Morse on October 22. Goldman will receive up to $18 million in salary, bonuses, restricted stock and stock options over the next four years, according to a regulatory filing.
Jabil Circuit plunged nearly 10 percent after the technology company posted earnings that missed estimates and forecast weak first-quarter results. In addition, at least three brokerages cut their price targets on the company.
American Greetings surged after the greetings card maker received a private buyout offerof $17.8 a share from a group led by its chief executive.
Dean Foods is seeking a buyer for its Morningstar dairy division, which is expected to fetch more than $1 billion in a sale, according to Reuters. Shares of the food and beverage company jumped after being temporarily halted.
On the economic front, new home sales eased in August, according to the Commerce Department, but still held near two-year highs.
Weekly mortgage applications gained last weekas interest rates fell to record lows in the wake of the Fed's QE3, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Treasury prices ticked upafter the government auctioned $35 billion in 5-year notes at a high yield of 0.647 percent and a bid-to-cover of 3.06.
—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
THURSDAY: Durable goods orders, GDP, jobless claims, pending home sales, 7-yr note auction, farm prices; Earnings from Discover Financial, Nike, Accenture, Research In Motion, Micron
FRIDAY: Personal income & outlays, Chicago PMI, consumer sentiment; Earnings from Walgreens
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