Stocks slip as investors eye US earnings, Greek debt drama

Friday, April 10, 2015, Vol. 39, No. 15

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. stock market drifted lower Thursday afternoon as investors sifted through the latest batch of corporate earnings reports. Major markets in Europe fell amid renewed concerns that Greece could default on its debts.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell one point, a fraction of a percent, to 18,108 as of 1:05 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped one point, less than 0.1 percent, to 2,106 and the Nasdaq composite lost four points, a sliver of a percent, to 5,007.

RESPONSE: Investors are trying to figure out if the recent run of uninspiring economic news will hit corporate profits, said David Lebovitz, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. At the same time, big banks and other corporations have turned in better results than Wall Street expected this week.

"There's a bit of a tug of war right now," Lebovitz said. "So far, it looks like the earnings season is off to a decent start."

HUGE QUEUE: Netflix added 4.9 million subscribers in the first three months of the year, better than any other quarter since the company started streaming video eight years ago. All told, Netflix finished March with 62 million subscribers around the world. Traders drove the company's stock up $69.34, or 15 percent, to $544.07, the biggest gain in the S&P 500.

VINTAGE PERFORMANCE: Etsy nearly doubled in its first day of trading, The online market for handmade crafts and vintage goods raised $267 million in its initial public offering on late Wednesday, selling shares at $16 each. Etsy's stock was up $15.69 to $31.69 in midday trading Thursday.

BIG CITI: Citigroup's quarterly net income rose 21 percent as the bank trimmed expenses and legal costs, which compensated for a decline in revenue. The results beat Wall Street's estimates, and Citi's stock rose 84 cents, or 2 percent, to $54.09.

EARLY LOOK: The first quarter earnings season is supposed to be the worst in years, with analysts forecasting a 3 percent drop in earnings compared with the year before. The early results suggest things might not turn out that way. Earnings from eight out of 10 companies have come in higher than estimates, according to S&P Capital IQ.

JOB MARKET: The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid last week inched up for the second week in a row, the Labor Department said. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, edged up to 282,750, still close to the lowest level in nearly 15 years.

GREEK JITTERS: Mounting fears of a Greek debt default sent the country's borrowing costs surging. The latest jitters were stoked by a report Thursday in the Financial Times that Greece made an "informal approach" to the International Monetary Fund to have its bailout repayments delayed. The report, citing unnamed officials, was unsettling for investors. The yield on Greece's 10-year bonds surged to nearly 13 percent. Greece owes the IMF around 1 billion euros ($1.06 billion) next month. Many in the markets think the Greek government will struggle to make those payments if it doesn't reach an agreement with European creditors soon.

ANOTHER TAKE: "There seems little chance of talks being resolved," said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital. "A debt default looms."

EUROPE: European stock markets fell, with Greece's main stock market losing 0.8 percent. Germany's DAX dropped 1.9 percent and France's CAC 40 lost 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 slid 0.5 percent.

CHINA BOUNCE: China's market rebounded from losses the previous day, when the world's second-biggest economy posted its slowest quarterly growth in six years. The 7 percent expansion in the January-March period was the weakest since the global financial crisis. Beijing has cut interest rates twice and rolled out other support measures.

ASIA'S DAY: In China, the Shanghai composite index jumped 2.7 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.4 percent. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index up 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi rose 1 percent, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.7 percent.

CRUDE: U.S. benchmark crude slipped 29 cents to $56.11 in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.13 to $62.19 in London.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Prices for U.S. government bonds fell, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury up to 1.91 percent. The euro rose 0.5 percent to $1.0722, while the dollar was flat at 119.14 yen.