The market was in a risk off mode as investors worried that the informal EU summit (which is still ongoing) would not finalize measures to resolve the Greek issue. Wall Street initially declined sharply but then reversed in the late session amid encouraging US data. The DJIA ended the day losing -0.05% while the S&P 500 added +0.17%. In the commodity sector, the front-month contract for WTI crude oil plummeted to 89.28, the lowest level since November 2011, before settling at 89.90, down -2.13%. while the equivalent Brent contract fell to a 5- month low of 105.39 before ending the day at 105.56, down -2.63%. Apart from the Greek turmoil, reports that the IAEA and Iran negotiation has made some progresses and the World Bank downgrade of China's growth forecasts also weighed on prices. Gold plummeted for a third consecutive day to 1532.8 before closing at 1548.4, down -1.79%.
Optimism over the informal EU summit appeared have faded as news said that world leaders failed to compromised on important issues. For instance, while both French President Hollande and Italian PM Monti have pushed for euro bonds, others, mainly Germany's Chancellor Merkel, opposed to the idea. Talks of Greek exit remained hot. St Louis Fed President Bullard opined that the debt-ridden Eurozone country could exit the bloc without causing too much damage to Europe and the US if the exit was handled in an appropriate way.
Elsewhere, the growth outlook in China, the world's second largest economy, continues to show some worrying signs. The World Bank reduced its forecast for China's economic growth to +8.2% this year from previous projection of +8.4%. The lender suggested that fiscal measures to support consumption, such as targeted tax cuts, social welfare spending and other social expenditures, should be viewed as the first priority. The country's PMI compiled by HSBC and Markit showed that, with a preliminary reading pointing to 48.7 in May from 49.3 in April, China's manufacturing activities may contract for a 7th straight month.
On a positive note, the US housing price index climbed +1.8% m/m in March from +0.3% while new home sales added +4.57% to 343K in April. The country will report durable goods orders for April which probably gained +0.5% following a -4.2% contraction in the prior month. Excluding transportation, the reading might have risen +1.0% after a -1.1% drop in March. Initial jobless claims are expected to have dropped -2K to 368K in the week ended May 19.