NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares edged higher in major markets on Monday despite a flight to safety triggered by a sell-off in Greek bonds, while crude oil prices tumbled after a short-lived bounce.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras failed to get enough support for his presidential nominee and will call a national election for Jan. 25. Stocks in Athens .ATG plunged as much as 11.3 percent before closing down 3.9 percent, while yields on 10-year Greek bonds GR10YT=RR touched their highest since September 2013.
Greece’s Syriza party, which could come out ahead in the election, wants to wipe out a big part of the country’s debt and cancel the terms of a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund that Athens needs in order to pay its bills.
“Greece is always worth paying attention to, but it’s a hiccup,” said Mark Martiak, senior wealth strategist at Premier Wealth/First Allied Securities in New York. “I don’t see it as anything that makes a difference in the overall market.”
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 hit yet another intraday record high, boosted by gains in consumer and bank stocks, among others. Consumer discretionary names were among the day’s biggest gainers, with the sector .SPLRCD up 0.6 percent.
“The nearer-term picture is, consumers are enjoying lower gas prices; it’s almost as if it is an alleviation of taxes,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 3.12 points, or 0.02 percent, at 18,056.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was up 3.84 points, or 0.18 percent, at 2,092.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 2.20 points, or 0.05 percent, at 4,809.06.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed up 0.15 percent and an MSCI gauge of major equity markets .MIWD00000PUS edged up 0.2 percent.
Oil prices LCOc1CLc1 continued to fall after earlier rising on concern about Libyan output. Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell 2.5 percent to $57.97 per barrel after hitting a high of $60.43. U.S. crude lost 2 percent to $53.66 a barrel.
“Every time the market tries to pick itself up, it’s just another wave of selling,” said Gene McGillian, senior analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. He said the market’s concerns about oversupply are not going away.
Hurt in part by the sharp decline in crude prices in the past six months, Russia's economy shrank sharply in November. The rouble RUB= resumed its slide on Monday, down 8.4 percent to 58.45 per dollar.
Copper CMCU3 fell to its lowest level in four and a half years on concerns about a strong dollar and a slowdown in top consumer China. It was recently down 0.2 percent for the session.
U.S. Treasuries prices rose on safety buying after the Greek parliament vote, though trading was light as many investors are away the week between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note US10YT=RR was up 11/32, its yield at 2.2109 percent.
“That is one of the main reasons we are trading a bit better here ... there is more of a ‘risk off’ feel, given the headlines out of Greece,” said Sean Murphy, a Treasuries trader at Societe Generale in New York.
The euro slipped 0.2 percent against the greenback at $1.2154 EUR= after earlier hitting $1.2141, the lowest going back to August 2, 2012.
Greece’s failure to elect a new president, and the resulting risk to its bailout program, “has largely been already reflected in the market positioning,” said Douglas Borthwick, managing director at Chapdelaine Foreign Exchange in New York.
The dollar strengthened against the yen JPY= at 120.70 but lacked momentum to challenge a 7-1/2 year high of 121.84 hit earlier this month.
Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica, Karen Brettell, Sam Forgione and Samantha Sunne; Editing by Dan Grebler