U.S. Stocks Decline Amid Greek Debt Talks After Nearing Record

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U.S. stocks fell, halting two days of gains that brought equities near a record, amid declines in raw-material and railroad shares as Greek debt talks dragged on.

Kansas City Southern and CSX Corp. dropped more than 2.7 percent to weigh on industrial shares. General Motors Co. slumped 3.1 percent, while Ford Motor Co. gained after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. flipped its preference on the two. Netflix Inc. erased a rally of as much as 3.7 percent after Carl Icahn said he had exited his stake. Apple Inc. added 0.9 percent after positive comments from Morgan Stanley.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.7 percent to 2,108.58 at 4 p.m. in New York, after earlier rising to within 0.3 percent of a record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 178 points, or 1 percent, to 17,966.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.7 percent from an all-time high. About 5.8 billion shares traded hands on U.S. exchanges Wednesday, 8 percent below the three-month average.

“This is just a bit of a pullback because we’ve had a good run over the last few days, and there has been some nervousness that the Greece situation may not get resolved soon,” said Bill Schultz, who oversees $1.2 billion as chief investment officer at McQueen, Ball & Associates Inc. in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “Other than that, there’s a little bit of a lull until earnings next month.”

Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is preparing to pick up talks with creditors after euro-area finance ministers adjourned a meeting on Greece today as a breakthrough on the terms of aid remained elusive. Tsipras will meet for more discussions with creditors in Brussels Wednesday night. Signs of fresh cracks between the sides tempered optimism from earlier this week that had sent stocks higher around the world.

Better Spending

Revised data today showed a bigger gain in consumer spending helped the world’s largest economy contract less than previously estimated. Gross domestic product fell at a 0.2 percent annualized rate, compared with a previously reported 0.7 percent drop.

The harsh winter weather and port delays that damped growth at the start of the year have given way to increases in consumer spending and housing, bolstering Federal Reserve projections that the setback was temporary. Still, pockets of weakness remain as lower oil prices continue to hinder investment in the energy industry and a firm dollar restrains global sales.

Fed Governor Jerome Powell said Tuesday the chances are about 50-50 that the U.S. economy will improve enough for the central bank to raise interest rates in September. Three rounds of Fed bond purchases and near-zero interest rates helped the S&P 500 more than triple during the six-year bull market.

The benchmark index has gone without gains or losses of 2 percent or more for the longest streak since February 2007. The gauge climbed last week by the most since April after the Fed signaled it won’t rush to raise rates, as officials hold out for more decisive evidence of an economic rebound.

Broad Retreat

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index rose 9.5 percent today to 13.26, after closing yesterday at its lowest level in a month. The gauge, known as the VIX, is down 31 percent this year.

All of the S&P 500’s 10 main groups declined, with raw-material, industrial and health-care companies sliding the most. Technology shares erased an earlier climb as Apple trimmed its advance. The tech giant rose as much as 2.2 percent after Morgan Stanley said Apple Watch demand is “sustaining at healthy levels,” while an estimate for iPhone demand in the current quarter remains at 53 million.

Monsanto Co. fell 5.7 percent, the most since Aug. 2011, and was the biggest decliner Wednesday in the S&P 500. The world’s largest seed company signaled low corn and soybean prices are likely to persist beyond 2015 as it prepares for potentially reduced revenue by cutting expenses. DuPont Co. retreated 3.4 percent and Vulcan Materials Co. lost 1.6 percent.

Banks, Transports

The Dow Jones Transportation Average dropped 1.9 percent, the most in two weeks, for a second day of losses. Kansas City Southern, CSX Corp. and Union Pacific Corp. lost at least 2.7 percent to pace declines. J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. slid 3 percent, the most in four months, and Con-way Inc. declined 2 percent.

Financial companies in the S&P 500 fell for the first time in three days. Banks slumped after yesterday reaching their highest level in more than seven years. Citigroup Inc., KeyCorp and Bank of America Corp. declined more than 1 percent. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. decreased 1.8 percent, the most since March.

GM fell 3.1 percent, the biggest drop in two months, while Ford rose 1.4 percent to a one-month high after Goldman Sachs flipped its preference between the two automakers, saying Ford has a “superior growth outlook.”

Netflix Slips

Netflix closed 0.4 percent lower after rallying as much as 3.7 percent on the company’s stock split announcement. Shares of the online subscription video service wiped out gains after Carl Icahn said he had exited his Netflix stake. Icahn also warned in a CNBC interview that he thinks the stock market is “overheated,” and he expects a “dramatic pullback.”

Peabody Energy Corp. tumbled 8.8 percent. Cable One Inc. will replace Peabody in the S&P MidCap 400 Index after the close of trading on June 30.

Helmerich & Payne Inc. slid 2.7 percent to an 11-week low. Simmons & Co. cut its rating on the stock to neutral from overweight after Helmerich trimmed its outlook for daily rig revenue in the third quarter.

Homebuilders Gain

Fitbit Inc. lost 4.9 percent, falling for the first time in five sessions since its initial public offering. Shares had climbed 89 percent through Tuesday’s close.

An S&P index of homebuilders advanced to a two-month high after Lennar Corp. rallied 4.2 percent as quarterly results beat analysts’ forecasts. KB Home gained 2.9 percent to a seven-month high. PulteGroup Inc. and D.R. Horton Inc. added at least 1.1 percent. Data Tuesday showed new-home sales in May rose to the highest level since February 2008.

Sysco Corp. climbed 3.1 percent, the most since September, after its planned $3.5 billion takeover of US Foods Inc. was blocked by a federal judge. That brought relief to investors concerned about the company undertaking an ambitious merger.