Stocks Start with Mild Losses as Europe Worries Ease

U.S. stocks edged between minor gains and losses Tuesday as concerns over a spreading Europe debt crisis eased in the wake of a successful Italian bond auction. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 18.99 points, or 0.15% at 12,486.77. The S&P 500 was off 3.31 points, or 0.25%, at  1,316.18. The Nasdaq Composite was down 18.37 points, or 0.66%, at 2,784.25.

The U.S. trade deficit jumped 15.1% in May to the highest level in almost three years, largely because of the increased cost of oil imports. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the deficit increased 15.1 percent to $50.2 billion in May. That’s the largest imbalance since October 2008.

European finance chiefs cast about for a new strategy to halt Greece’s debt spiral, reviving previously discarded ideas and sharpening a dispute with central bankers as the rot spread to Italy.

Oil prices fell to near $94 a barrel on Tuesday as financial markets were hit by worries about Europe’s debt crisis and the U.S. dollar strengthened.

Benchmark oil for August delivery was down $1.05 to $94.10 a barrel at late morning European time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Apple Inc’s chief patent counsel will soon leave the company, at a time when the iPhone maker is fighting numerous legal battles around the world. Apple is engaged in an expanding web of litigation concerning smartphone patents, mostly with phonemakers using Google’s rival Android software.

Saudi’s SABB Bank posted a 90.6 percent rise in its second quarter net profit, beating analyst forecasts, the bank said in a bourse statemnt on Tuesday. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected the bank to make, on average, a net profit of 708 million riyals for the second quarter.

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