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Wall Street reverses from six-month high

MARKET CLOSE:  Blue chips failed to hold their gains while oil traded higher after the European Union imposed a ban on Iranian imports.

Nevil Gibson
Tue, 24 Jan 2012

Blue chip stocks on Wall Street failed to hold their gains after topping Friday’s six-month high early in the session.

Investors had little news, with the first economic data this week – home sales – not due until Wednesday.

Instead, the market action was in commodities, with oil trading higher after the European Union imposed a ban on Iranian imports and gold rising to a six-week high.

Jobless claims, durable-goods orders and new-home sales are due Thursday, and the first take on fourth-quarter growth in gross domestic product will be released on Friday.

In the corporate area, Research In Motion fell 6.5% after the BlackBerry maker's co-chief executives, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, said they would step down as part of a board and management shuffle. Thorsten Heins, previously one of two chief operating officers, will replace them.

At the close (10am NZ time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 11.66 points, or 0.1%, to 12,708.82 after earlier rising to their highest since May 2011.

The S&P 500 index finished marginally 1316.00 while the Nasdaq Composite eased 0.1% to 2784.17.

Other markets: Europe up, Asia mixed
European stock markets pushed higher, as investors were comforted by Germany successfully selling 12-month treasury bills at an auction.

This helped to ease some of the earlier eurozone debt worries sparked by the Greek government failing to reach an agreement on a debt write-down plan with private-sector creditors.

The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index was up 0.4% higher at 257.01.

London's FTSE 100 was up 0.8% at 5774.15, the French CAC-40 was 0.6% higher at 3343.84 and Frankfurt's DAX was up 0.6% at 6443.89. European markets traded higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.6%.

In Asia, Australian shares slipped and Japanese stocks ended little changed.

The Nikkei Stock Average fell less than a point to 8765.90 to snap a four-day winning streak, although the broader Topix index climbed 0.2%.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3% to 4225.10, weighed down by weakness in resource-sector stocks.

India's Sensex gained 0.1% to 16,751.73. Markets in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Korea were closed for New Year.

Commodities: Oil, gold rise
Oil futures broke a three-day losing streak after the EU import ban on Iranian oil. It will apply from July 1 and is subject to a review on May 1.

Crude for March delivery settled $US1.25, or 1.2%, higher at $US99.58 a barrel in New York. ICE North Sea Brent crude, the bellwether for European prices, settled 72c higher at $US110.58.

Gold futures extended gains made at the end of last week. The February delivery contract settled $US14.30, or 0.9%, up at $US1678.30 an ounce in New York, the highest level in six weeks.

Currencies: US dollar falls
The US dollar extended losses against the euro, which rose to its highest level this year on growing expectations of a deal between Greece and its creditors.

The euro rose to $US1.3037 from $US1.2936 in late on Friday. It hasn't closed above $US1.30 since late December.
The US dollar traded at ¥76.99 compared with ¥77.02, while the euro was at ¥100.37 compared with ¥99.67.

The UK pound bought $US1.5583 compared with $US1.5575, while the dollar fetched 0.9265 Swiss franc from 0.9375 franc.

Nevil Gibson
Tue, 24 Jan 2012
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Wall Street reverses from six-month high