Investors sidelined by Greece worries

@CNNMoneyInvest February 22, 2012: 8:09 AM ET
u.s. stock futures, premarket

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks were poised for a slightly lower open Wednesday, as investors question whether Greece's newest bailout will be effective.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were about 0.1% ahead of the opening bell. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

After weeks of negotiations and market speculation, eurozone finance ministers completed a deal early Tuesday that will provide Greece with €130 billion in funding it needs to avoid default next month.

But while a crisis was temporarily averted, analysts caution that Greece will eventually need more support for its long-term debt. Greece already passed a package of unpopular austerity reforms in order to qualify for the funds, and experts argue that these measures further stunt the nation's shrinking economy.

Greece's fate also depends on whether private sector investors agree to debt reduction agreement terms, which include a write down of 53% on the face value of Greek government bonds -- steeper than the previous 50% reduction agreed to in October.

Greece gets a reprieve, but crisis not over

Fitch Ratings downgraded Greece by two notches Wednesday morning, pushing the country's rating further into junk territory. The downgrade suggests that a "default is highly likely in the near term."

Last summer, Fitch was the first of the big ratings agencies to warn that any losses by private sector holders of Greek debt -- even on a voluntary basis -- would be considered a form of default.

On Tuesday, U.S. stocks stumbled at the close, shaking off a modest morning rally ignited by news of the Greek bailout.

World markets: European stocks were lower in afternoon trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) slipped 0.3%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany dropped 0.8% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) edged 0.5% lower.

Asian markets ended ended higher. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) gained 0.9%, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong added 0.3% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) jumped 1%.

China's preliminary HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index, a measure of manufacturing activity in the world's second-largest economy, rose to a 4-month high of 49.7 in February, up from 48.8 in the prior month. While the index improved, it is sill below 50, meaning that manufacturing activity continues to contract in China.

Spectrum war's winners and losers

Companies: Back in the U.S., corporate earnings season continues. Dell (DELL, Fortune 500) reported results after the closing bell Tuesday, missing analysts' expectations. Shares fell almost 7% in early trading Wednesday.

Rival Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500) will be in focus Wednesday, with quarterly results due after the market closes. Hewlett-Packard is expected to post earnings of 86 cents per share, down from $1.36 a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters.

Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers (TOL) posted a $2.79 million loss Wednesday, compared to a $3.42 million profit last year. The company's revenues declined and missed expectations.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) was also in focus, with shares slipping 0.2%, as the tech giant faced Chinese company Proview International in a Shanghai courtroom on allegations that it does not own rights to the iPad trademark in China.

Netflix's (NFLX) stock continued to lose ground after Comcast (CMCSA, Fortune 500) said that it is working on a new subscription video-on-demand competitor, named "Streampix." But the streaming service will only be available to those who also subscribe to Comcast cable.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500) were higher in early trading. Late Tuesday, the company announced that CEO Bill Weldon will step down in April.

Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, which has been in the headlines lately for its tussles with stakeholder Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500), wants to take its publicly traded Web portal private.

Economy in recovery? Not so fast

Economy: The spotlight will turn to real estate on Wednesday, as the National Association of Realtors releases existing-home sales for January at 10 a.m. ET. Existing-home sales are expected to slip slightly, to 4.5 million units from 4.61.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar was flat against the euro, but rose versus the British pound and the Japanese yen.

Oil for April delivery slipped 33 cents to $105.92 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery fell $1.60 to $1,756.9 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, with the yield around 2.06%.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,804.80 26.65 0.15%
Nasdaq 4,765.38 16.98 0.36%
S&P 500 2,070.65 9.42 0.46%
Treasuries 2.18 -0.03 -1.27%
Data as of 4:57pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.62 0.09 0.51%
General Electric Co 25.62 0.48 1.91%
Apple Inc 111.78 -0.87 -0.77%
Intel Corp 36.38 -0.64 -1.73%
Microsoft Corp 47.66 0.14 0.29%
Data as of 4:04pm ET
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15 yr fixed3.14%3.00%
5/1 ARM3.25%3.01%
30 yr refi4.17%4.06%
15 yr refi3.21%3.09%
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