(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed sharply lower, reversing early gains, weighed by uncertainty over the outcome of parliamentary elections in Italy after early poll results indicate a deadlock.
The S&P 500 Index retreated 1.83 percent to end at 1,487.85. The Dow Jones fell 1.55 percent to finish at 13,784.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 1.44 percent to close at 3,116.25.
Exit polls in Italy reportedly show that the former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's center-right coalition is leading in the Senate, a result that is seen as potentially damaging to government stability if confirmed. Early exit polls showed Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left coalition leading the elections.
On the domestic data front, the Dallas Federal Reserve's manufacturing survey showed a reading of 2.20 in February from 5.5 in January, below expectations of a reading of 3.
Other reports of economic interest due to be released over the week include: new home sales, pending home sales, durable goods orders, jobless claims and Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing survey, consumer confidence data, personal income and spending and fourth quarter GDP data.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: LOW, HTZ, CTB, CHK, BKS, ESI, DDD, AFFY
Lowe's Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) declined 4.80 percent after the home improvement retailer posted a declined in quarterly earnings amid drop in sales and flat margins. Lowe's also guided full-year profit below consensus.
Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HTZ) added 1.66 percent after the car and equipment rental businesses company reported better-than-expected quarterly results due to improving pricing and the positive impact of strategic investments. The company also issued an upbeat forecast.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. (NYSE: CTB) rose 2.52 percent after the company posted quarterly results, beating expectations, helped by sales growth and lower raw material costs.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) lost 6.78 percent after the natural gas company said it will sell a stake in its Mississippi Lime assets in northern Oklahoma to Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration & Production Corp. for $1.02 billion in cash.
Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) surged 11.47 percent after the bookseller said it received proposal from Chairman Leonard Riggio to buy all assets of the retail business.
ITT Educational Services Inc. (NYSE: ESI) tumbled 16.64 percent after the company disclosed the SEC is probing the company's agreement related to private student-loan program.
3D Systems Corp. (NYSE: DDD) lost 9.10 percent after the provider of 3D printers issued earnings guidance for 2013 following a three-for-two stock split announcement last week.
Affymax Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFY) plunged 81.66 percent after the biopharmaceutical company announced voluntarily recall of Omontys, an anemia therapy for dialysis patients as a result of new postmarketing reports regarding serious hypersensitivity reactions.
European markets closed in green, with Germany's DAX up 1.45 percent to close at 7,773.19. France's CAC40 rose 0.41 percent to finish at 3,721.33. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.31 percent to end at 6,355.37.
Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.50 percent to end at $2,325.82. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 2.43 percent to end at 11,662.52. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.17 percent to close at 22,820.08. India's Sensex closed at 19,331.69, up 0.08 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures shed 0.25 percent to $92.89 per barrel, while natural gas futures added 3.89 percent to $3.42 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures advanced 1.37 percent to $1,594.40 per ounce and silver futures jumped 1.96 percent to $29.08 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro lost 1.03 percent against the U.S. dollar at 1.3058. The British pound inched up 0.03 percent against the greenback to 1.5168, while the dollar tumbled 2.30 percent against the Japanese yen at 91.2700.