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Overnight Markets: Most US stocks advance on Greek optimism

The Dow Jones was down 25 points, the S&P 500 was up two points and the Nasdaq gained 23 points.

 
Overnight Markets: Most US stocks advance on Greek optimism

Most US stocks rose on Monday as concern about a surge in Spanish bond yields was overshadowed by the optimism about Greece’s attempts to form a coalition government.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 25 points, or 0.2%, at 12,742. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up two points, or 0.14%, at 1,345. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 23 points, or 0.78%, at 2,895.

A senior official at Greece's New Democracy party said that Greece would form a government on Tuesday. However, there were conflicting signals about the way forward. The leader of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, backed Greece’s international bailout package, but also said there would have to be "some necessary amendments."

Meanwhile, Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, said any leeway on the agreed reform pledges would be unacceptable. There was little reprieve from the contagion concerns as yields on both Italian and Spanish bonds increased, with Spain's 10-year yield climbing above the 7%.

Investors were also cautious ahead of the US Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting.

Energy shares declined after US crude futures fell 1%. Halliburton Co. fell 1.7%. Morgan Stanley slumped 3.4% to pace losses in financial companies.

Elsewhere, DSW Inc plunged 11.3% after the footwear retailer gave a quarterly earnings outlook below analysts' expectations.

Consumer discretionary and technology shares had the biggest gains. Facebook acquired Face.com, whose facial-recognition technology has been in use on the social network. Facebook shares surged 4.7%. EBay was up 4.5% and Groupon Inc climbed 10.8% on positive analyst comments. Apple Inc shot up 2%, accounting for about half the Nasdaq's rise.

Oracle Corp shares rose 5.3% in after-hours trading after the software maker’s fourth-quarter revenue beat expectations.

Homebuilders also rose with D.R. Horton rising 3.9% and Lennar climbing 4.1%.

In Asia, most stocks declined on Tuesday as Spain’s borrowing costs surged to a euro-area record and optimism faded that Greece’s election will calm Europe’s debt crisis.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 116 as of 12:39 p.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.2% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.3%. South Korea’s Kospi declined 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.2% and China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.5%.  

In corporate news, Esprit Holdings, a clothier that counts Europe as its largest market, lost 2.3% in Hong Kong. Pacific Basin Shipping Ltd. slid 4% after Hong Kong’s biggest operator of dry-bulk ships predicted a first-half loss.

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