U.S. stocks dropped Tuesday morning as global fears escalate after Greece and eurozone finance ministers failed to reach an agreement over the country’s debt program a day earlier. The lack of a consensus means Greece is at risk of going bankrupt as its bailout package expires in 10 days. The U.S. financial markets were closed Monday in observance of the Presidents' Day holiday.
In early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which measures the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, fell 27.35 points, or 0.15 percent, to 17,992, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index lost 2.93 points, or 0.14 percent, to 2,094.13. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.97 points, or 0.06 percent, to 4,890.22.
Greece, EU Bailout Standoff Continues
Bailout talks ended early on Monday after Greece rejected a six-month extension offer from European Union finance ministers, raising fears of a possible Greek exit from the eurozone. Following the meeting, eurozone finance ministers gave Athens 48 hours to request an extension to the bailout program that expires Feb. 28, a demand that Greece refuses to accept. Greece's government said a deal with EU officials remains "totally feasible" but it will not accept ultimatums, an official told Reuters Tuesday.
Japan Edges Out of Recession, But Challenges Lie Ahead
The Bank of Japan is holding a two-day policy meeting Tuesday and Wednesday after the world’s third-largest economy edged out of recession last quarter. Its gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, grew at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent, well below consensus forecasts. Economists had expected Japan’s GDP to expand at a 3.7 seasonally adjusted annual rate in the fourth quarter, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
Despite crawling out of a recession at the end of last year, Japan still faces deflation concerns, which could prompt more monetary stimulus from its central bank later this year. The Bank of Japan is scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday to discuss its latest monetary policy decision.
Economists are looking ahead to Wednesday, when the U.S. Federal Reserve releases its latest minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s meeting last month. Investors will be eyeing the report to see whether the FOMC hinted at when the central bank will begin raising interest rates, which are currently at historic lows. Most economists expect to see a hike in rates in mid-2015.
Economists Eye Oil Prices, U.S. Inflation
The U.S. Department of Labor is scheduled to release a key inflation gauge Wednesday. Data last month showed prices charged by U.S. companies fell in December by the most in three years, a sign that a drop in oil prices are holding down U.S. inflation.
The Producer Price Index, which measures U.S. wholesale prices, declined 0.3 percent in December after declining 0.2 in November, the largest decline since October 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in January. Meanwhile, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditures index, rose 0.7 in December from a year earlier, down from a 1.2 percent increase in November. This was the weakest reading since October 2009. The drop gives some Federal Reserve officials room to pause as the central bank debates whether to hike interest rates this year.
Oil prices traded lower Tuesday after crude prices rebounded last week, driven by the sharp drop in the number of rigs drilling and major oil companies cutting back on investment. Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, lost 1.37 percent Tuesday to $60.56 a barrel for April 15 delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange. West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, added 2.65 percent to $51.38 a barrel for March 15 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Here's the economic calendar for the week of Feb. 16. All listed times are EST.
President’s day. No major U.S. economic data scheduled.
- Europe -- Eurogroup meeting
- Japan -- Gross Domestic Product (Q4 and Annual)
- 8:30 a.m. -- Empire state index (February)
- 10 a.m. -- Home builders' index (February)
- United Kingdom -- Consumer Price Index (January)
- Germany -- ZEW Survey of Economic Sentiment
- Switzerland -- Swiss National Bank Chairman Thomas J. Jordan Speech
- 8:30 a.m. -- Producer price index (January)
- 8:30 a.m. -- Housing starts (January)
- 9:15 a.m. -- Industrial production (January)
- 9:15 a.m. -- Capacity utilization (January)
- 2 p.m. -- FOMC minutes
- Japan -- Bank of Japan Press Conference
- Europe -- ECB Non-monetary policy meeting
- United Kingdom – Bank of England Monetary Policy Vote
- 8:30 a.m. -- Weekly jobless claims (Week ended February 12)
- 10 a.m. -- Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Survey (February)
- 10 a.m. -- Leading indicators (January)
- Japan -- Bank of Japan Monthly Economic Survey
- 9:45 a.m. – Markit Manufacturing ‘Flash’ PMI (February)
- Europe -- Markit Manufacturing ‘Flash’ PMI (February)
- Germany -- Markit Manufacturing ‘Flash’ PMI (February)
- France -- Markit Manufacturing ‘Flash’ PMI (February)