US markets subdued on interest rate and Greek jitters

<p>Market and sectors</p>

US markets closed lower on Friday as fears of looming interest rates and Greek concerns affected market sentiment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 60.34 points to close at 17,824.29, the S&P 500 Index dropped 7.05 points to 2,055.47 both down 0.34 per cent, while the Nasdaq lost 20.70 points closing at 4,744.40.

However, it wasn’t all bad news as the drop on Friday (February 6th) didn’t stop US stocks clocking up their best week since December, according to the FT.

Brent crude rose 9.5 per cent to US$58.03 per barrel, while WTI climbed 7.8 per cent to US$52.01 (£34) a barrel on Friday, with prices rising today following Opec’s latest monthly report which predicts a drop in US supply.

Economic news

The US markets are trading weaker, with continued concerns about Greece and the Ukraine crisis. While data released on Sunday showed that China’s trade performance fell in January with exports down 3.3 per cent and imports slumping 19.9 per cent on the prior year; much worse than analysts had predicted. Reuters reported that the import slump is the worst seen in China since May 2009 during the global financial crisis.

The US dollar was trading flat at $1.522 against the pound as at 13:00 GMT.

Company news

Expedia tumbled almost ten per cent on Friday, after it reported a 30 per cent drop in profits in the last quarter largely attributable to the stronger dollar. While bookings grew 24 per cent, these had slowed from 29 per cent in the previous quarter. Competing travel sites Priceline, owners of popular brands such as and Kayak, and Orbitz also felt the heat dropping more than three per cent and one per cent respectively.

On Sunday HSBC announced “compliance and control failures” in the operation of its Swiss private bank, which was largely acquired as part of its purchase of Republic National Bank of New York and U.S. private bank Safra Republic Holdings. Investigations are expected to continue with the bank facing criminal investigation in the US, UK and Europe, reported The BBC.

US toymaker Hasbro announced Monday that its board had approved a buyback programme of up to US$500 million. This followed a jump in fourth-quarter profits to US$169.9 million, up from US$129.8 million in the same period last year.

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