Stocks Back Off As Troubles Re-Emerge In Europe

By Donald H. Gold, Investor's Business Daily

Posted 04:24 PM ET

Stocks suffered some low-volume selling Monday, as local issues took a back seat to political problems in two of the EU's problem countries.

The Nasdaq fell 1.5%, the S&P 500 dropped 1.2% and the Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.9%. Volume fell 9% on the Nasdaq and 15% on the NYSE, according to preliminary data.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is the focus of angry demands, mostly from opposition parties, that he resign amid bribery accusations. Rajoy denies the charges, but a political stalemate would do no good for one of the EU's crisis countries.

In Italy, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi — who has plenty of baggage – promised voters he'll repeal an unpopular property tax. Campaigning for his center-tight party ahead of a Feb. 23-24 election, Berlusconi also said his party would return the $5.4 billion that Italians paid last year in that tax, part of the country's austerity measures. That's a lot for a cash-strapped country trying to maintain its access to credit markets.

Europe's bounses fell hard. France's CAC-40 dropped 3%, Germany's DAX-30 lost 2.5% and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 slid 1.6%.

Spain's IBEX 35 sank 3.8% and Italy's Milano Italia Borsa lost 4.5%.

Italy's 10-year Treasury yield rose 15 basis points to 4.48%, while Spain's surged 23 basis points to 5.44%. Both are at their highest since December.

And the euro, which had been climbing since late July, fell 1.34 cents to $1.3512.

Thor Industries (THO) dropped 6% in double-paced trade. The slide puts it 5% below a 41.80 buy point from a cup-with-handle base. Shares were 6% past that buy point last week.

Meritage Homes (MTH) fell 3% in moderately above-average volume. The loss put Meritage 5% below a 42.69 buy point from a cup-without-handle base. Meritage staged a big downside reversal Friday in nearly twice its average volume. The homebuilder had reported much better-than-expected fourth-quarter results the day before.

But 3D Systems (DDD) moved up 2%, although volume ended below average.

via Stock Averages Back Off In Lower Volume As Troubles Re-Emerge In Spain, Italy –