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US: Stocks end lower as Greece keeps traders cautious

Saturday, June 20, 2015 - 07:20
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[NEW YORK] US stocks eased from the week's highs on Friday as traders became cautious ahead of a fraught-filled weekend for Greece and the eurozone.

Giving up more than half of Thursday's gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 101.56 points (0.56 per cent) at 18,014.28, and the broad-based S&P 500 fell 11.48 (0.54 per cent) to 2,109.76.

After sweeping to a new record Thursday, the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 15.95 points (0.31 per cent) at 5,117.00.

The mild sell-off came as Greece and its official creditors entered the weekend with no deal on more financial aid to Athens in sight, and the cash-short country facing a June 30 deadline to repay 1.5 billion euros (US$1.7 billion) to the International Monetary Fund.

"Greece is obviously on everyone's mind; it could be just positioning ahead of that potential for volatility on Monday," said Charlie Bilello of Pension Partners. "Why take the risk over the weekend if you don't have to?" ConAgra Foods jumped 10.9 per cent as hedge fund Jana Partners reported amassing a 7.2 per cent stake and moved for three board seats in an effort to change management direction and boost the company's value, complaining of poor performance in the wake of the 2013 US$6.7 billion purchase of RalCorp.

Also in play was home lifestyle and furnishing group Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which added another 8.4 per cent on top of Thursday's surge on news that retail fashion brands investor Sequential Brands Group was nearing agreement to buy the iconic firm.

Among other movers, American Airlines rose almost 4.0 per cent, while chocolate maker Hersey melted off 3.5 per cent on a lowered sales forecast, and oil services power Schlumberger dropped 2.3 per cent.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury slid to 2.27 per cent from 2.34 per cent Thursday, while the 30-year fell to 3.05 per cent from 3.13 percent.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.

AFP