U.S. stocks dropped Friday morning, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly tumbling more than 100 points, as global fears mount over the eurozone's confrontation with Greece, with a key meeting in progress. The tense deliberations are igniting concerns about a possible Greek exit from the 19-member eurozone.
In early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which measures the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, fell 67.50 points, or 0.38 percent, to 17,918.27, and the S&P 500 stock index lost 8.06 points, or 0.39 percent, to 2,089.24. The Nasdaq Composite fell 9.78 points, or 0.20 percent, to 4,914.94.
EU Meets To Discuss Greece's Bailout Deal
Germany surprised the global financial markets Thursday when it rejected the Greek government’s request for a six-month assistance package, rather than a six-month extension of its current bailout program, which would come with austerity and reform conditions that the new Greek government rejects.
The decision comes as time is running out on Greece's current bailout program, which expires Feb. 28. However, newly elected Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Friday he is "certain" eurozone finance ministers will accept the deal.
"I feel certain that the Greek letter for a six-month extension of the loan agreement with the conditionalities that accompany it will be accepted,” Tsipras said in a statement to Reuters.
U.S. Manufacturing Picks Up
Data Friday showed the U.S. manufacturing sector expanded this month at its fastest rate since November. Markit’s “flash” PMI for manufacturing rose to 54.3 in February, up from 53.9 in January, marking the highest reading since November.
“Factory output growth ticked higher for a second successive month in February, suggesting the goods-producing sector is on course to make a robust contribution to the economy in the first quarter,” Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said in a statement Friday.
Oil Prices Drop As Inventories Rise
Oil prices traded mixed Friday a day after data revealed U.S. crude inventories hit another record high for the sixth straight week. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories rose 7.7 million barrels last week to a record 425.6 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Thursday.
West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, fell 1 percent to $50.65 a barrel for March 15 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, edged up 0.08 percent Friday to $60.26 a barrel for April 15 delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange.