Stocks retreat as hope for a Greek deal fades

TOKYO (AP) – Asian shares rose Wednesday, and Japan’s benchmark hit an 18-year high, amid optimism about a bailout deal between Greece and its creditors.


WALL STREET GAINS: USA stocks gained on deal news in health care and energy.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was up 156 points, or 0.9 percent, to 18,172 as of 11:21 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 12.86 points, or 0.6%, to 2,122.85 and the Nasdaq composite climbed 36.97 points, or 0.7%, to 5,153.97. United States stocks ended with slight gains yesterday, with the Nasdaq eking out another record close while investors continued to await clarity on whether Greece could reach a deal to prevent defaulting on its loans.

The cash-strapped country faces a 1.5 billion euro ($1.7 billion) payment to the worldwide Monetary Fund (IMF) at the end of the month. The country has been negotiating for four months on what economic reforms it should undertake in exchange for the loans. A Greek default and the nation’s potential exit from the euro currency could shake financial markets.

“It looks like Greeks are going to give ground on actions on spending and it may just be enough to get to the finish line”, said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.

Of the index’s 10 main groups, nine were in positive territory.

Cigna’s shares rose 7 per cent to $166.28 after the health insurer rebuffed Anthem’s $47-billion merger proposal on Sunday. Anthem rose 3.6 percent to $171.04. Aetna (NYSE:AET) advanced 4.1 percent to $129.17.

Other health insurers rose on speculation of more mergers in the industry.

Dunkin’ Brands (NASDAQ:DNKN) climbed 2% to a new high and broke out past a 54.70 flat-base buy point. Supplies of distillate, including heating oil and diesel, gained for a fifth week, and gasoline stockpiles rose for a second, the report showed.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark US crude fell 74 cents to close at $60.27 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The Russell 2000 also touched a new intraday high. Williams Cos. rejected a buyout offer from Energy Transfer Equity for $48 billion.

Shares of Williams surged 26 percent to $60.90 and were the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P 500 by far.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: USA government bond prices edged lower on Tuesday, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 2.39 percent. The euro was small changed against the dollar at $1.1361, while the dollar rose to 123.37 yen. Meanwhile, Greece’s governing party has run into trouble selling its most recent concessions to its supporters.

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