(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended sharply lower as the headlines from Europe as well as a weaker-than-expected domestic factory orders data dented sentiment.
The S&P 500 Index retreated 1.15 percent to end at 1,495.72. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.93 percent to finish at 13,880.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 1.51 percent to close at 3,131.17.
Contributing to the weakness were reports that Spain's opposition Socialist Party urged Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to resign following corruption allegations. Spanish 10-year benchmark yield climbed to 5.40 percent, while Italian 10-year yields rose to 4.42 percent.
On the domestic data front, the Commerce Department reported that factory goods orders gained 1.8 percent in December, yet missed expectations of an increase of 2.4 percent.
Other reports of interest due to be released over the week include: the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing survey, the weekly jobless claims and the Commerce Department's trade balance.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: WMT, ORCL, SYY, HUM, GCI, APKT, BRO, CYBX
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) shed 1.22 percent after JPMorgan downgraded the stock of the retail giant to "neutral" from "overweight".
Sysco Corp. (NYSE: SYY) fell 2.68 percent after the company reported a 11.5 percent decline in quarterly earnings due to an increase in operating expenses. Despite revenue beating consensus, adjusted earnings missed Wall Street expectations.
Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) jumped 4.66 percent after the company posted better-than-forecast quarterly earnings amid revenue growth and the health care company reaffirmed its forecast for 2013.
Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI) lost 6.70 percent after the largest newspaper chain in the United States posted a 11.8 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings due to higher tax provision.
Acme Packet Inc. (NASDAQ: APKT) surged 23.61 percent after the provider of session delivery network services agreed to be acquired by Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) for $29.25 per share in cash. ORCL shares fell 2.97 percent.
Brown & Brown Inc. (NYSE: BRO) added 5.38 percent after the insurance company posted better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter.
Cyberonics Inc. (NASDAQ: CYBX) gained 5.55 percent after the maker of nerve stimulation devices said a lawsuit filed by former employee Andrew Hagerty was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice by Hagerty.
European markets plunged, with Germany's DAX off 2.49 percent to close at 7,638.23. France's CAC40 declined 3.01 percent to finish at 3,659.91. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 shed 1.58 percent to end at 6,246.84.
Asian markets closed mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index rising 0.38 percent to close at 2,428.15. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.62 percent to finish at 11,260.35. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.16 percent to end at 23,685.01. India's BSE Sensex ended 0.15 percent lower at 19,751.19.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures slumped 1.62 percent to $96.18 per barrel while natural gas futures rose 0.58 percent to $3.32 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures gained 0.24 percent to $1,674.70 per ounce while silver futures fell 0.67 percent to $31.75 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro lost 0.92 percent against the U.S. dollar at 1.3514. The British pound advanced 0.51 percent against the greenback to 1.5761, while the dollar dropped 0.51 percent against the Japanese yen to 92.3000.