Stocks Waver Ahead of Close; Energy Slips

Stocks struggled to hold their gains ahead of the close as energy and techs weakened and after excitement over France and Germany's potential rescue aid for Greece waned.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained, led by Verizon and AT&T after finishing higher amid choppy trading in the previous session.

Tech giants Intel and Cisco were the biggest laggards on the blue-chip index.

The S&P 500 struggled to hold onto its gains, while the Nasdaq turned lower. The S&P has to close above 1,270.98 in order to break its six-week losing streak. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 22 after surging to its highest level since mid-March during the previous session.

If the S&P 500 and Dow hold on to gains, they would record their first positive week in seven.

Among key S&P sectors, consumer discretionary, telecom and financials gained while techs and energy slipped.

Today is quadruple witching, when contracts on stock index futures, stock index options, stock equity options, and single stock futures expire. Quadruple witching happens once every quarter, on the third Friday of March, June, September and December.

“The market has reached a little too far in the bearish way, but at the same time, it’s too early to say this correction is over," said Howard Ward, portfolio manager of the GAMCO Growth Fund. "I don’t think 7 percent [market decline] is enough to blow the all-clear whistle.”

“This is a tough time to trade,” said Randy Frederick, Director of Trading and Derivatives at Charles Schwab. “The summer months are going to be tough—I expect choppy, but tight ranges.”

However, Frederick remains optimistic about the year overall.

“In the third and fourth quarters, we’ll see a rebound,” he said. “When QE2 goes away, it will take a few weeks for people to have confidence and for the markets will battle back and forth. If [markets] can maintain their levels, it will give confidence that they are capable of going on their own.”

Merkel and French Sarkozy said at a press conference said that they were united behind a new aid package for Greece that would include voluntary private sector participation on the basis of the so-called "Vienna Initiative."

The news came after Greece's prime minister appointed Evangelos Venizelos as finance minister, replacing the unpopular George Papaconstantinou.

Ward noted that gold is where investors should hedge their bets as a way to protect themselves from the euro. Gold prices rallied near $1,540 an ounceas the Greek debt crisis raised risk aversion. The dollar extended losses against the euro.

Research In Motion plunged almost 20 percentto trade at its lowest level since 2006 after the BlackBerry maker posted revenue below its own forecast, forcing it to slash its outlook. Analysts expressed concern as at least 15 brokerages cut their price targets, while another five lowered their ratings on the firm.

Also on the tech front, chipmakers were mostly lower, including Nvidia and Marvell .

Meanwhile, Apple slipped to trade at the lowest level of the year.

Capital One beat bids from the likes of GE Capital and CIT Group to buy ING’s U.S. online bank for $9 billion in cash and stock. Suntrust Robinson raised its rating on Capital One to "buy" from "neutral."

BJ's Wholesale slipped even after private equity firms Leonard Green and CVC Capital confirmed it will submit a joint bid for the warehouse club. Meanwhile, Janney Capital cut its rating on the firm to "neutral" from "buy."

Bankrate rebounded after tumbling in its public debutafter the consumer financial services company priced its IPO at $15 per share, in the middle of the expected range of $14 to $16.

Meanwhile, Pandora continued to slide on its third day of trading. The Internet-radio company is currently trading well-below its initial price offering price of $16 a share.

Oil prices fell, with U.S. light, sweet crude down $1.94, to settle at $93.01 a barrel, the lowest since the Feb. 18. London Brent crude declined 81 cents to settle at $113.21. Prices have slipped more than 6 and 4 percent for the week, respectively.

Airlines gained on the heel of lower oil prices. United Continental , Delta Airlines and Southwest Airlines all traded higher.

On the economic front, leading indicators rose more than expected in May to a record high, according to the Conference Board.

Meanwhile, consumer sentiment worsened more than expected in Juneamid concerns over the outlook for the economy, while worries about inflation eased modestly, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey.

European shares closed higher, but still racked up a seventh straight weekly loss—the longest such run in three and a half years.

On Tap Next Week:

MONDAY: No major economic news expected
TUESDAY: Existing home sales, FOMC meeting begins; Earnings from Walgreens, Barnes & Noble, Adobe
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, oil inventories, FOMC meeting announcement; Earnings from FedEx, Bed Bath & Beyond
THURSDAY: Weekly jobless claims, new home sales, money supply, Yahoo shareholders meeting; Earnings from ConAgra, Discover Financial, Oracle
FRIDAY: Durable goods, GDP, corporate profits

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