ECONOMIC INDICATORS

U.S. stocks little changed before elections amid Greek concern

BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/SCOTT EELLS
STOCKS WERE LITTLE CHANGED before the presidential elections on concerns over Greece's economy.
Posted 11/5/12

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks were little changed, after last week’s advance in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as Americans prepared to vote in presidential elections and amid growing concern that Greece will struggle to win a bailout.

Time Warner Cable Inc. declined 6.3 percent amid disappointing earnings. Apple Inc. rose 1.3 percent as it sold 3 million units of its iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad during the debut weekend, saying demand for the smaller version of its tablet outstripped supply. KBW Inc. added 7.1 percent as Stifel Financial Corp. agreed to buy the boutique investment bank in a cash-and-stock transaction valued at $575 million.

The S&P 500 lost 0.1 percent to 1,413.46 at 10:44 a.m. New York time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 10.65 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,082.51. Trading in S&P 500 companies was 18 percent below the 30-day average at this time of day.

“People are more like holding their breath and turning blue,” said Madelynn Matlock, who helps oversee about $14.7 billion at Huntington Asset Advisors in Cincinnati. She spoke in a phone interview. “There’s concern about Europe. The market is looking like there’s some worry in Greece. There’s also the election in the U.S. That keeps investors on the sidelines.”

Equities we little changed as European shares dropped and the euro traded at an almost two-month low. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will this week battle to win political support for measures needed to obtain aid. U.S. voters decide tomorrow between giving President Barack Obama another four years in office or changing course with Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Service industries

The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index declined to 54.2 last month from 55.1 in September, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said today. Economists projected 54.5, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Readings above 50 signal expansion in the gauge of industries that account for almost 90 percent of the economy.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent last week as the market reopened after Hurricane Sandy caused the longest weather- related shutdown since 1888. The benchmark gauge for American equities has surged 12 percent this year as central banks around the world stepped up stimulus to boost the economy. About 70 percent of companies that released quarterly results have beaten analysts’ estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Markets are expected to remain mostly range bound today, with some more downside possible as investors tend to take money off the table, preferring to take a wait-and-see attitude until the picture is clearer,” Markus Huber, head of German sales trading at ETX Capital in London, wrote in an e-mail.

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