Stocks decline on eurozone concerns

The ECB downplays a report about planned bond buying to stem the region's debt crisis. Aetna will buy Coventry Health in a $5.7 billion deal. Lowe's slumps on weak earnings. Apple hits a new high as Facebook is up from new low.

By Melly Alazraki Aug 20, 2012 9:26AM

Updated at 12:12 p.m. ET


Stocks pared earlier losses Monday that stemmed from concerns over the eurozone debt crisis. Aetna (AET) confirmed plans to buy rival Coventry Health Care (CVH) in a $5.7 billion deal. Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) hit a new high, and Facebook (FB) recovered after hitting a new low earlier.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) was down 7 points at 13,268. The S&P 500 ($INX) was down 2 points at 1,417. The Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) was down 2 points at 3,075.


Stock markets, despite trading at seasonally low volumes and without much movement, continued their slow summer rally last week. The S&P 500 closed at 1,418 Friday in its sixth week of gains, approaching four-year highs.


The upcoming week

The Federal Reserve is set to release the minutes from its July meeting on Tuesday. Although the Fed didn't announce another round of easing at the meeting, investors will look for clues about whether it will initiate certain stimulus measures at the end of the month, when Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at a Jackson Hole, Wyo.


More housing data are also on tap this week, with reports out about new and existing home sales, as well as housing prices. Durable goods orders, which show bookings for long-lasting goods, is set to be released Friday.


Dell (DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) are scheduled to announce financial results this week.

Europe remains in focus

The situation in Europe will continue to take center stage as several meetings about the eurozone's debt problems take place this week.


Attention is returning to Greece, which will ask to postpone the implementation of new austerity measures. French President François Hollande is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet Merkel on Friday and Hollande on Saturday.


Meanwhile, the disagreement between the European Central Bank and Germany's central bank widened. The German magazine Der Spiegel reported over the weekend about an intervention method the ECB was considering to help contain the eurozone debt crisis, namely unlimited buying of bonds of eurozone countries if their borrowing costs rose over certain predetermined levels. Not only did the Bundesbank criticize the measure, but the ECB later downplayed the report, adding to investor concerns.


European stock markets fell Monday after the ECB downplayed the bond buying report. Asian stocks finished mostly lower Monday, with Chinese data pointing to rising housing prices, which could prevent policy makers from cutting interest rates.


Stocks to watch

Aetna (AET), the third-biggest U.S. health insurance provider, confirmed plans to buy Coventry Health Care (CVH) for $5.7 billion in cash and stock. Aetna is paying $42.08 a share, a 20% premium to Coventry's shares as of Friday's close. The deal is valued at $7.3 billion. Coventry's shares surged 18% in premarket trading, while Aetna's shares rose 4.5%.


Struggling retailer Best Buy (BBY) on Monday named the head of Carlson, French national Hubert Joly, as its new chief executive to succeed current interim CEO Mike Mikan in early September. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that talks between Best Buy and its founder, Richard Schulze, over taking the company private have broken down after the company said Schulze had rejected its offer to conduct due diligence.


Lowe's (LOW) reported a 10% drop in fiscal-second-quarter earnings as the second-largest home improvement retailer saw its margins squeezed, while same-store sales declined slightly. The company also cut its projections for the year.


Sirius XM (SIRI) shares were active in early trading as Bloomberg reported that Liberty Media said in a filing to the Federal Communications Commission after trading ended last week that it can take control of the radio provider within 60 days of receiving approval for the transfer from the regulator.

Apple (AAPL) hit a new high ahead of its expected product launches, as Facebook (FB) hit a new low after a judge has rejected its settlement of a class-action suit regarding sponsored stories. Meanwhile, another 1.44 billion shares to be freed up through November will put even more pressure on the shares.

Wal-Mart (WMT) said it is bringing back layaway a month early, giving U.S. shoppers under economic pressure more time to pay for holiday gifts.

Early backers of Groupon (GRPN), including Silicon Valley veteran Marc Andreessen, are now selling their shares, The Wall Street Journal reported, losing faith in the comapny.

Aug 20, 2012 9:52AM

1. In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress. - John Adams

2. If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed. - Mark Twain

3. Suppose you were an idiot.. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself. - Mark Twain

4. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. - Winston Churchill

5. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. - George Bernard Shaw

6. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. - G. Gordon Liddy

7. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
- James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

8. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. - Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

9. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
- P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

10. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
- Frederic Bastiat, French economist(1801-1850)

11. Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it.. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
- Ronald Reagan (1986)

12. I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. - Will Rogers

13. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free! - P.J. O'Rourke

14. In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. - Voltaire (1764)

15. Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!
- Pericles (430 B.C.)

16. No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. - Mark Twain (1866)

17. Talk is cheap... except when Congress does it.
- Anonymous

18. The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.
- Ronald Reagan

19. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.      - Winston Churchill

20. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.

- Mark Twain

21. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.

- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

22. There is no distinctly Native American criminal class... save Congress. - Mark Twain

23. What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
- Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)

24. A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.  - Thomas Jefferson

25. We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. - Aesop


1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for...another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they worked for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation!

Aug 20, 2012 11:12AM

Not too long ago I was poor. I have been working since I was 9 years old (I had a paper route, mowed lawns, shoveled snow, carried grocieries...). In my teenage and early twenties, I had to scrape by week in and week out. I drove a crappy car with no a/c, radio, and bald tires. I worked two jobs and a lot of entry level work. However, along the way, I went to school, got an education, moved into better and better jobs, and am now working on my Doctorate. The formula is hard, but simple. Hard work, sacrifice and always looking for ways to better oneslelf is not the secret of success -- it is the recipe for success.

Aug 20, 2012 11:42AM
In a democracy, you have no rights.  Rights can be taken away by the government.  Property lawfully obtained can be seized and given to someone else.  

This is what we have going on now.  Some feel that government should seize the property of one group and give it to another.

We have 77,000 pages of tax code that describes how some are more equal than others.   

We need to shrink the sizeof government and stop creating government run Ponzi schemes.   
Aug 20, 2012 12:14PM
"  Subjects OFF LIMITS  for discussion when interviewing the President"

Aug 20, 2012 9:53AM

nice bumper sticker


>>>>>Too big to jail....<<<<<

Aug 20, 2012 10:09AM
Even though the election of the President is not a direct public vote, we still have local elections where our voices and votes matter and count. I wouldn't want to live in a country that did not strive for Democracy.
Aug 20, 2012 10:01AM
If government is such a sham and so evil, why do you vote?
If you don't believe in the idea of democracy, why do you vote?
If you'd prefer that corporations make the laws, why do you vote?
If you believe in free speech, why do you condemn the voices of others?
If you believe that "all men are created equal", why do you condone the silencing of dissenting opinions?

Aug 20, 2012 10:19AM

The problems in the Euro zone (and in America for that matter) are systemic. Any system that promotes only debt and consumption is doomed.


The producers are portrayed as evil. While you see so very many ads asking "What's in your wallet?". We promote debt and consumption and denigrate hard productive work.


Will this change soon? I doubt it, like an addict we will need to hit "rock bottom" first.

Aug 20, 2012 10:08AM
Who would support a new US government that would openly admit that "we the people" shouldn't have ANY voice in government? The US is a Representative Republic, however, "we the people" still  get to vote - which in case you don't realize, is a form of Democracy. Why would you be against Democracy?

Aug 20, 2012 11:41AM
can't you guys come up with something new - every other day it's the same - worrys for Europe next day Europe worry's over back and forth - I think you're full of $hit
Aug 20, 2012 10:44AM
Blue -- what a bunch of crap... I am not rich -- however, I see no reson for the rich to have to pay more... Why should they? to fund what? Did they create the poor, or are they the ones that create jobs to help the poor? Did the rich cause people not to get an education, not to better themselves, not to contribute to society? Did the rich turn them on to drugs, alcohol and Jerry Springer? Why should rich people pay more? What did they do to create the social ills and mess our elected officials created? Did the rich wastefully spend every dime collected to fund social security? Did the rich spend every dime collected to fund medicare? The poor want to be handed a fish, but very few want to learn how to fish and survive on their own.

The Dow should hit 200,000 by the end of the year.


With Japan's central bank printing money like crazy to cover Japan's national debt and Bernanke printing money like crazy to keep the stock market up and cover our $16 trillion government debt


And now with European Central Banks gearing up their printing machines.


Get ready for a quick ride to the top before the reality that we are not going to be able to buy anything made overseas as those countries have already kicked the dollar to the curb.


Yep unless we nuke china pretty much we are doomed economically folks.

Aug 20, 2012 10:20AM

The Dems had FULL control the first two years (08-09) and what did they do?



They lost in 2010 as they will lose this year and only then civility will come back.


ANYONE, how will you RE-PAY OUR NATIONAL DEBT??? No pickle juice here!!!

Aug 20, 2012 11:58AM

I repeat:

"The US is the best place to live until you live somewhere else for a few years...

like Canada for example.

Obama is going to make rich people flee this country if ever he gets re-elected."


NOW, WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF...? Losing your job if Obama gets re-elected?

THE RICH WILL NOT HELP YOU, because you are not helping yourself.

Aug 20, 2012 10:58AM
So, we have partisan politicians that are currently in office, or recently in office. Now, we vote out those currently in office, and replace them with more partisan politicians that are currently in another office, or recently in office, and expect everything to come out peachy-keen, and our government will do a full 180. It seems most voters today are searching for the horse they are riding. 
Aug 20, 2012 10:59AM

The US is the best place to live until you live somewhere else for a few years...

like Canada for example.

Obama is going to make rich people flee this country if ever he gets re-elected.

Aug 20, 2012 12:33PM
4 years ago, the M2 money supply was less than $8 trillion.  Today it's just above $10 trillion.  That pretty much explains everything...
Aug 20, 2012 10:21AM

Floating: "If government is such a sham and so evil, why do you vote?
If you don't believe in the idea of democracy, why do you vote?
If you'd prefer that corporations make the laws, why do you vote?
If you believe in free speech, why do you condemn the voices of others?
If you believe that "all men are created equal", why do you condone the silencing of dissenting opinions?"

Government is a tool and like all tools it can either work for you or against you. Acceptance into a society is to take on it's responsibilities and share it's rewards. No man is a island. The fact that the USA is STILL the greatest nation on Earth speaks volumes of how badly it is to live everywhere else. So where do you want to live?

Aug 20, 2012 9:49AM
Aug 20, 2012 11:30AM
 Well then just for you DR   I carried it while through hiking the Pacific Crest Tail 
"Press on"
  Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone  are omnipotent.
 I'm sure the 62 year old woman trying to swim from Florida to Cuba  feels the same way. "Success" comes in many different forms
 My mantra on the PCT became you are not a failure unless you fail to try
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