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Stocks Fall, Euro Weakens Amid Greek Discussions; Copper Drops

Stocks Fall, Euro Weakens
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg

U.S. and European stocks fell, driving the Dow Jones Industrial Average down from an almost four-year high, and the euro declined the most in three weeks as Greek leaders wrestled with spending cuts to get aid and avert a default. German bonds rose, and commodities dropped.

The Dow slumped 17.10 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,845.13 at 4 p.m. New York time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped less than 0.1 percent, trimming its retreat from 0.6 percent as energy stocks rallied 1.1 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.1 percent. The euro fell 0.2 percent to $1.3132 after slipping 1 percent. Yields on 10-year German bonds slipped five basis points to 1.89 percent. Oil decreased 1 percent. Copper futures sank 0.9 percent.

European leaders stepped up pressure on Greek politicians to accept the conditions for a 130 billion-euro ($171 billion) bailout, saying time was running out. French President Nicolas Sarkozy met German Chancellor Angela Merkel today, while a gathering of Greek political leaders was delayed until tomorrow as they struggled for a unified response. China’s economic growth would be cut almost in half if Europe’s debt crisis worsens, the International Monetary Fund said.

“We are entering into a fairly critical 24 hours for Greece,” Jim Reid, a strategist at Deutsche Bank AG in London, wrote in a report. “The focus has shifted from the private sector involvement negotiations toward the lack of political consensus and whether the interim coalition government will accept the conditions” for its second bailout package, he said.

Best Since 1987

U.S. stocks fell after the S&P 500 posted a fifth weekly rally, the longest winning streak since January 2011, and rose 6.9 percent this year for the best annual start since 1987. Financial institutions posted the biggest decline today among 10 industries, followed by raw-material producers. Indexes for both S&P 500 groups retreated 0.5 percent.

The Stoxx Europe 600 ended a four-day advance as basic-resources companies and insurers led losses.

The euro depreciated 0.2 percent to 100.57 yen and slumped 0.2 percent versus the Swiss franc. The Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against those of six trading partners, advanced 0.1 percent after gaining as much as 0.8 percent.

Oil in New York dropped to $96.91 a barrel, while copper futures slumped to $3.8645 a pound. China is the biggest buyer of the metal.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 0.2 percent. Romania’s BET Index slipped 1.2 percent, the most since Nov. 28, after Prime Minister Emil Boc resigned following protests over his government’s austerity measures including a 25 percent public-wage cut turned violent and lenders ended a review of the Balkan nation’s bailout loan.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index jumped 1.2 percent after the central bank cut lenders’ reserve-requirement ratios, while India’s benchmark index rose 0.6 percent.

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