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Stocks End Lower As Cyprus Euphoria Fizzles; Apollo Group (APOL) Jumps

 March 25, 2013 04:16 PM

(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended in red, paring early gains, as euphoria over the Cyprus bailout deal faded and investors were concerned that the agreement could become a template for resolving euro zone banking problems.

The S&P 500 Index fell 0.33 percent to end at 1,551.70. The Dow Jones dropped 0.44 percent to finish at 14,447.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.30 percent to close at 3,235.30.

Stocks opened higher after Cyprus and Eurozone finance ministers reached a tentative deal on a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout package to resolve the country's financial crisis.

However, stocks gave back gains after Reuters reported that chairman of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem said "Cyprus was a template for handling the region's other debt-strapped countries."

[Related -Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE:FDO) Q1 Earnings Preview: What To Watch?]

Dijsselbloem clarified his previous comments and said "Cyprus is a specific case with exceptional challenges which required the bail-in measures we have agreed upon yesterday. Macro-economic adjustment programmes are tailor-made to the situation of the country concerned and no models or templates are used."

The Cyprus agreement involves the winding down of the country's second-largest bank Popular Bank of Cyprus CPBC and holders of bank deposits of over 100,000 euros are forced to take losses, while all deposits under 100,000 euros will be transferred into the Bank of Cyprus.

[Related -Apollo Education Group Inc (NASDAQ:APOL) Q1 Earnings Preview: A Top Versus Bottom Line Battle]

There were no major U.S. economic data released for the day.

Domestic economic reports of interest due to be released over the week include: durable goods orders, new home sales, pending home sales, Conference Board's consumer confidence, gross domestic product, weekly jobless claims and personal spending.  


Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) added 2.62 percent after the PC maker said a special committee of board has received two alternative acquisition proposals from Blackstone (NYSE: BX) and investor Carl Icahn. Dell, which has agreed to be taken private in a $24.4 billion deal, said the special committee has determined the offers from Blackstone and Icahn "could reasonably be expected to result in superior proposals".

Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) rose 2.02 percent after the discount retailer posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings, as higher customer traffic drove sales growth and margins improved.

BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) dropped 4.56 percent after shares of the maker of smartphones were downgraded to "Neutral" from "Buy" at Goldman Sachs.

J.C. Penney Company Inc. (NYSE: JCP) fell 1.62 percent after shares were downgraded to "Underperform" from "Market Perform" at BMO Capital.

Smithfield Foods Inc. (NYSE: SFD) rose 2.40 percent after the company is said to have hired Goldman Sachs to evaluate strategic options.

Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) jumped 7.10 percent after the private education provider posted second-quarter results that topped market expectations.

Vanguard Health Systems Inc. (NYSE: VHS) fell 6.44 percent after the hospital operator lost a Medicaid-care contract for the program year commencing October 1, 2013.

ZaZa Energy Corp. (NASDAQ: ZAZA) added 9.09 percent after the company agreed to sell its Eagle Ford Moulton assets in Texas in two separate deals for a total of $52.5 million.

JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO) tumbled 10.73 percent after the China-based maker of solar products reported a wider fourth-quarter loss as revenue dropped. 

Global Markets

European markets ended on a lower note, with Germany's DAX down 0.51 percent to close at 7,870.90. France's CAC40 declined 1.12 percent to finish at 3,727.98. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 declined 0.22 percent to end at 6,378.38.

Among Asian markets, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.07 percent to end at $2,326.71. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.69 percent to finish at 12,546.46. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.61 percent to close at 22,151.15. India's BSE Sensex finished at 18,681.42, down 0.29 percent.  

Commodity & Currency Scan

Crude oil futures rose 0.89 percent to $94.54 per barrel while natural gas futures dropped 1.50 percent to $3.87 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures shed 0.17 percent to $1,605.20 per ounce while silver futures gained 0.30 percent to $28.79 per ounce.

In the currency market, the euro tumbled 1.05 percent against the U.S. dollar at 1.2853. The British pound lost 0.32 percent against the greenback to 1.5181, and the dollar lost 0.35 percent against the Japanese yen at 94.1300.

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