Global stocks, oil slip with eyes on Greece; hospital shares jump

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stock markets and oil prices edged lower on Thursday on lingering worries over Greece, though a Supreme Court ruling upholding tax subsidies drove U.S. hospital stocks to record highs.

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange June 24, 2015. REUTERS/Remote/Staff

Concerns over the possible impact of Greece’s debt crisis on European energy demand weighed on crude prices along with weaker U.S. refined fuels.

A failure on Thursday to clinch a deal between Athens and its three creditor institutions - the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union - set up a last-ditch effort to reach agreement on Saturday to avoid a default next week.

Without a deal by the weekend to unlock frozen aid, Greece is set to default on a crucial repayment to the International Monetary Fund next Tuesday.

“Watching Greek headlines. That’s kind of holding markets back,” said Vassili Serebriakov, currency strategist at BNP Paribas in New York.

Market participants had assumed this week that a deal would eventually be reached after European officials said on Monday and Tuesday a proposal from Greece was a good basis for talks.

On Wall Street, hospital shares surged, with several hitting all-time highs, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld tax subsidies that are key to President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. The S&P 500 healthcare index rose 0.5 percent.

U.S. transport stocks, considered a proxy for economic activity, unofficially entered correction territory, closing down 10.6 percent from a Dec. 29 closing high.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 75.71 points, or 0.42 percent, to 17,890.36, the S&P 500 lost 6.27 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,102.31 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 10.22 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,112.19.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended down 0.3 percent. MSCI’s all-country index, a gauge of stock performance in 46 countries, dipped 0.2 percent.


The euro was little changed against the U.S. dollar, even after data showed U.S. consumer spending recorded its largest increase in nearly six years on strong demand for automobiles and other big-ticket items.

The euro traded at $1.12020, off 0.03 percent on the EBS trading platform.

In the bond market, U.S. benchmark 10-year notes were down 6/32 to yield 2.39 percent compared with a yield of 2.37 percent late Wednesday.


Gold eased for the fifth straight session as traders awaited further news on Greece’s negotiations with its creditors.

Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,172.95 an ounce.

Brent crude settled down 29 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $63.20 a barrel, while U.S. crude fell 57 cents, or almost 1 percent, to end at $59.70.

“It feels like the bulls have thrown in the towel in their pursuit of pushing WTI up to $65,” said Scott Shelton, broker with ICAP in Durham, North Carolina.

Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos, Ryan Vlastelica, Dan Bases, Barani Krishnan and European desks; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Chizu Nomiyama