U.S. STOCK MARKETS
The Dow slid to its third straight triple-digit point decline as poor corporate-earnings underscored growth worries and concerns mounted about Greece's ability to pay its debts.
CNOOC's headquarters in Beijing, China.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 104.14 points, or 0.82%, to 12617.32 points, though the blue-chip benchmark trimmed its losses in Tuesday' final minutes after The Wall Street Journal reported the Federal Reserve is moving closer to taking additional action to boost the economy.
For the Dow, Tuesday's drop extends to three its streak of consecutive sessions with declines of greater than 100 points, the longest since September.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 12.21 points, or 0.90%, to 1338.31, and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 27.16 points, or 0.94%, to 2862.99. Telecommunications stocks lagged most as all 10 of the S&P 500's sectors retreated.
AT&T declined 2.1% after reporting second-quarter earnings that were above consensus analyst estimates, though revenue missed Wall Street's view.
Bellwether United Parcel Service fell 4.6% after the package-delivery company's second-quarter earnings and revenue missed estimates, and it lowered its full-year earnings outlook, citing increasing economic uncertainty in the U.S. and continued weakness in Asia.
Dow component DuPont stumbled 2% after the chemical company's second-quarter earnings also topped estimates but revenue fell short of expectations.
In addition, the company said full-year earnings would be at the low end of its previously provided range. Texas Instruments slipped 0.9% after the microchip maker reported second-quarter earnings that beat forecasts, but revenue fell short and it indicated third-quarter revenue would be below current projections.
Major benchmarks extended declines minutes after the opening bell after the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond offered a reading on Central-Atlantic manufacturing in July that showed a sharp contraction.
Earlier, Markit Economics' preliminary July reading on the U.S. factory sector showed it barely expanded. Losses widened around midday after a Reuters report that Greece will need to restructure its debt again, citing European Union officials.
The report compounded anxieties stirred in recent days about Greece's future membership in the euro zone and Spain's rising borrowing costs.
The Dow had fallen nearly 200 points late in the session, but stocks came back from session lows after The Wall Street Journal reported that Fed officials appear increasingly inclined to shore up the economy. The reports on Greece accelerated declines across European markets, which were already lower after the Continent's own discouraging manufacturing data.
EUROPEAN STOCK MARKETS
The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 0.5%, losing ground for the third session in a row. Earlier, Markit's preliminary factory-sector reading for the euro zone was unchanged in July, indicating a sixth consecutive month of contraction. In Germany, the measure slipped in July from June.
European stocks ended a volatile trading session in the red on Tuesday, after Moody's cut its outlook on Germany, the largest economy in Europe, while investors continued to sell Spanish stocks and bonds.
Software AG surged 11% as it reported a 32% growth in license revenue for the second quarter.
Elan Corp. plunged the most in Europe, off 12%, after Pfizer Inc. said a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease failed to meet its clinical endpoint in a trial conducted with Janssen Al. Elan acquired 49.9% of Janssen Al in 2009.
Pressure remained on Spanish stocks for a third day, amid worries that more of the country's regions will seek financial aid from the government.
AFP reported that Catalonia, Spain's largest region by economic size, would ask the government for funds, but a government spokesperson said later in the day that such a decision hadn't been made. Moody's lowered its outlook on Germany, further exposing the euro zone's fragility.
Meanwhile, German and Spanish finance ministers are set to meet for talks in Berlin as their economies diverge. Spain's borrowing costs continued to rise, as the yield on 10-year government bonds added a further 12 basis points to 7.57%, a new euro-era high, according to electronic trading platform Tradeweb.
A basis point is one one-hundredth of a percentage point. Spain's IBEX 35 stock index slumped 3.6% to 5.956.30, the lowest level since the beginning of April. Banco Santander SA dropped 4.5% and BBVA SA gave up 4.2%.
Italian stocks were also under pressure, with the FTSE MIB index losing 2.7% to 12,362.51, its lowest closing level on record, according to FactSet.
German stocks were lower after Moody's Investors Service late Monday lowered the outlook on the country's triple-A rating to negative from stable, citing mounting uncertainties arising from the euro-zone debt crisis. Moody's also cut the outlook on the Netherlands and Luxembourg but affirmed Finland's triple-A rating.
On the data front in Germany, a preliminary purchasing managers' index reading showed that the composite output gauge for the country fell for a sixth month, with the July data signaling the fastest pace of private-sector contraction since June 2009.
For the euro zone, the composite PMI reading remained at 46.4 in July, indicating a sixth month of shrinking activity in the private sector.
Against this backdrop, the German DAX 30 index lost 0.5% to 6,390.41, weighed by a 2.6% drop for BMW AG. Software firm SAP AG supported the index, advancing 3.5%, as it confirmed its full-year outlook after second-quarter profit rose 12%.
On the data front in the U.S., a flash reading of the Markit manufacturing purchasing-managers index showed growth slowed to the lowest level since December 2010.
U.S. stocks were lower on Wall Street. U.K. stocks closed a choppy session lower, as banks and oil firms declined, overshadowing strength from Chinese manufacturing activity, which came in at a five-month high in July, according to a survey released by HSBC.
HSBC Holdings PLC slid 0.8% and Standard Chartered PLC gave up 2%. Among oil firms, BP PLC shed 0.6% even as OAO Rosneft said it had entered talks on acquiring the U.K. oil firm's stake in Russia's No. 3 oil producer, TNK-BP.
Oil prices were, however, higher. London's FTSE 100 index lost 0.6% at 5,499.23. In France, oil major Total SA slipped 1.6% and added pressure on the CAC 40 index, which fell 0.9% to 3,074.68.
Financials also weighed on the index. AXA SA slumped 3.1%, while Credit Agricole SA lost 3.2%. Among other notable movers, Swatch Group AG added 2.3% after the watchmaker reported a solid rise in first-half profit and sales and said the back half of the year looks promising.
ASIA-PACIFIC STOCK MARKETS
Asian stocks ended Tuesday little changed as a pickup in Chinese manufacturing helped offset continued concerns over Europe, while declines on the Hang Seng Index were led by Cnooc on concern it overpaid for its acquisition of Nexen.
Markets were helped by a pickup in preliminary Chinese manufacturing data for July. The score came out at 49.5 in July, compared with a final reading of 48.2 in June.
Although the figure still indicates a contraction in manufacturing activity, it is significantly higher than in the previous month. The Australian benchmark, which is sensitive to Chinese economic data, was one of the markets to benefit - the S&P ASX 200 pared its early losses to finish 0.1% up at 4133.20.
Other markets to turn positive after the data was released were South Korea's Kospi, which finished 0.3% higher at 1793.93 and the Shanghai Composite, which ended the day 0.2% up at 2146.59.
Still, concerns about Europe capped the upside, and the gains were mild compared to the heavy selling on Monday. Spain's borrowing costs climbed to a euro-era high Monday as yields on Spanish 10-year bonds hit 7.59%, before ending the day at 7.5%.
There were also fears that more regions in Spain may need to tap government funds, increasing fears that the Spanish bank bailout might not be enough to stem the debt crisis.
In addition, Moody's Investors Services revised its outlooks on the sovereign ratings of Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg to negative from stable.
Some analysts say that the yen might not strengthen much more, as investors are getting cautious about intervention from the authorities to stem the gains which hurt local exporters.
Japan's Nikkei dropped 0.2% at 8488.09 to finish at a six-week low, as the focus on European bad news trumped Chinese manufacturing data. In Hong Kong, the morning session was canceled as heavy rain and wind from Typhoon Vicente hit the city.
When it opened, it made up for lost time, falling 0.8% to 18903.20 as a broad decline in energy companies led the falls. At the forefront was Cnooc, the index's worst performer, which fell 4% as investors sold on news that the oil company will pay $15.1 billion for Canada's Nexen Inc.; which if successful, would be China's largest overseas acquisition.
In company news, Sharp fell 1.7% in Tokyo following a Nikkei report that the firm is expected to report a net loss of around Y100 billion in the April-June quarter, due to the deterioration of its LCD- and solar-panel businesses.
Also in Japan, Toshiba fell 5.4% after it announced that it would cut the production of NAND flash memory chips by 30% at its Yokkaichi plant in response to market oversupply and low prices. On the deal front, both Fraser & Neave and Asia Pacific
Breweries extended their gains, climbing 0.9% and 0.6% respectively late in the session as the battle for the control of the maker of Tiger beer heated up. People familiar with the matter told Dow Jones newswires that Japanese drinks company Kirin is in talks with bankers for a potential bid for Asia Pacific Breweries.
Base metals closed mostly flat on the London Metal Exchange Tuesday, tracking financial broader markets as investors weighed further bad news from the euro zone against supportive Chinese manufacturing data.
At the close, LME three-month copper was 0.2% higher at $7,417 a metric ton. Tin was the standout loser of the base metal complex Tuesday, closing 4.5% lower on the day at $17,530/ton.
Crude oil futures settled modestly higher Tuesday, after a tumbling 4% a day earlier on renewed worries of economic weakness in the euro zone.
Prices moved broadly throughout the session, lifted by early news of improving manufacturing data in China, the world's second-biggest oil consumer.
China's purchasing managers index rose to a five-month high in July of 49.5 from 48.2 in June, but a reading below 50 still indicates weakness.
China, the engine of growth for the global oil market, expected to account for 300,000 barrels a day of the worldwide rise in 2012 oil demand of 800,000 barrels a day, according to an International Energy Agency forecast.
But price gains on China were stifled by fresh worries about the health of European economies. Gold futures ended slightly lower after a day of indecisive trading, as afternoon gains in the dollar pressured some market participants to cash out of the precious metal.
The most actively traded contract, for August delivery, fell $1.20, or 0.1%, to settle at $1,576.20 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures have shuffled between $1,560 an ounce and $1,600 an ounce for the last two weeks in largely lackluster trading. Compiled from MORRISON SECURITIES PTY. LTD.
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