Funds News

US STOCKS SNAPSHOT-Financial worry pushes S&P 500 below 700

NEW YORK, March 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell in volatile trading on Tuesday, with the S&P ending below 700 for the first time since October 1996 as persistent uncertainty about the amount of money needed to shore up the financial system overshadowed a hunt for bargains.

* Stocks swung to both sides of the break-even mark throughout the session with the S&P’s ultimate break below the key psychological level of 700 adding to the gloom.

* Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke left the door open to whether banks will need more money when he said the size of a $700 billion bank-rescue package would depend on bank “stress tests” being conducted by regulators and the direction of the economy.

* The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 37.27 points, or 0.55 percent, to end unofficially at 6,726.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 4.49 points, or 0.64 percent, to 696.33. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC slipped 1.84 points, or 0.14 percent, to 1,321.01. (Reporting by Charles Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)