The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended lower on Wednesday, snapping a two-day rally as energy shares slid with oil prices and as investors' anxiety about the euro zone returned in the closing minutes of trading.
The benchmark index added to losses late in the session after the European Central Bank abruptly canceled its acceptance of Greek bonds in return for funding. The move means the Greek central bank will have to provide its banks with tens of billions of euros of additional emergency liquidity in coming weeks.
"Stocks were resilient in the face of oil's plunge, but then quickly sold off in the last 20 minutes of trading on the Greece news," Rob Williams, deputy editor of Moneynews.com, said on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax.TV. "The S&P 500 ended the day below its 50-day moving average. It needs to close above that level to set the stage for advances into record territory. Central banks continue to drive markets."
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Shares of the Global X FTSE Greece 20 exchange-traded fund dropped 10.4 percent, with volume spiking late in the session. The euro also fell on the news, while the S&P financial index turned lower and ended down 0.3 percent.
The Dow ended in positive territory, lifted by shares of Walt Disney, up 8 percent to $101.64 after quarterly profit topped analysts' expectations.
The S&P 500 energy index was off 1.6 percent as oil prices declined after a four-day surge of nearly 20 percent. U.S. crude sank 8.7 percent to settle at $48.45 following a new build in U.S. crude stockpiles.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 6.62 points, or 0.04 percent, to 17,673.02, the S&P 500 lost 8.52 points, or 0.42 percent, to 2,041.51 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 11.04 points, or 0.23 percent, to 4,716.70.
The day's dip followed a two-day gain of 2.8 percent for the S&P 500, driven largely by the rebound in energy shares.
Big biotechnology names declined. Leading them lower was Gilead Sciences, whose stock dropped 8.2 percent to $98.43, a day after the drugmaker said it is offering steeper-than-expected discounts on its hepatitis C drugs.
The news fueled concerns the sector would face increasing price pressure. The Nasdaq Biotech Index was down 1.8 percent. Gilead was also the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
About 7.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 8.1 billion average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,993 to 1,079, for a 1.85-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,677 issues fell and 1,054 advanced for a 1.59-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 was posting 37 new 52-week highs and 3 lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 79 new highs and 34 lows.
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