Stocks slip on Wall Street as Greek talks drag on

MATTHEW CRAFT AP Business Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are edging lower Monday morning as talks drag on between Greek political leaders over a fresh austerity package required for the country to get more bailout loans.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 36 points to 12,825 a half-hour before noon. That's a drop of 0.3 percent. American Express Co. led the Dow lower, losing 1.4 percent.

Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ, said he thinks investors are starting to realize the stock market is vulnerable to a big drop. Trading has been subdued compared with the wild swings of 2011. The S&P has closed up or down by more than 1 percent only three times since the year began. In December, that happened nine times.

"I look at it like a very low tide warning of an impending tsunami," Stovall said of the recent calm stretch. "We're setting ourselves up for a decline, the sort of decline that would make you sit up and take notice," he said.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3 points to 1,341, for a drop of 0.2 percent. The Nasdaq composite fell 7 points to 2,898.

The declines follow a big gain Friday after a surprisingly good U.S. employment report. Large gains in the stock market are often followed by modest moves, as traders pull some of their winnings off the table. On average since 1950, whenever the S&P rose by 1 percent or more in a trading day, the index has inched up just 0.1 percent the next day, according to S&P Capital IQ.

Greece's Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will meet with negotiators from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in the afternoon and then with the leaders of the three parties backing his coalition government. The Greek parliament must sign off on any budget deal.

Among companies making big moves:

-- Boeing Co. fell 1.3 percent following reports that the company found a problem in its 787 Dreamliner.

-- Netflix Inc. fell 3 percent after Verizon Communications and Coinstar Inc. said they will launch a video-streaming service later this year, a challenge to Netflix. Coinstar is the parent of Redbox, a DVD rental company. Coinstar rose 1.4 percent and Verizon less than 1 percent.

-- Micron Technology Inc. fell 2.5 percent following news that the chip maker's CEO died in a plane crash. Steve Appleton, 51, was at the helm for 18 years, leading the only company he'd ever worked for.

-- Humana dropped 5.6 percent, the biggest loss in the S&P 500 index. The health insurance company reported revenue that fell short of analysts' expectations. Humana also raised its earnings outlook for 2012 but that, too, was below analysts' forecast.