Stocks Decline after G20 Holds Off

U.S. stocks fell in early trading on Monday after the Group of 20 finance ministers held off on boosting funding for the International Monetary Fund until the euro zone does more on its own. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately declined 78.87 points, or 0.61%, to 12,904.08. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 8.67 points, or 0.63%, to 1,357.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 25.03 points, or o.84%, to 2,938.72.

The Group of 20 said Sunday that the euro zone will consider increasing the size of the region’s bailout fund next month, according to reports following a meeting of the group in Mexico. Should the euro zone give approval for the increase, that would in turn mean that other members of the Group of 20 would consider increasing the resources available to the International Monetary Fund, the reports said.

The euro zone avoided a credit crunch in January but banks showed scant sign of lending on the funds they snapped up at the European Central Bank’s first 3-year lending operation to companies which have been starved of investment funds. The monthly flow of loans to firms stabilized in January, declining by just 1 billion euros after falling 35 billion euros in December – the fastest drop on record – ECB data showed on Monday.

HSBC Holdings, Europe’s biggest bank, said paying rising wages in Brazil, China and other emerging market is the price of avoiding the slowdown being felt by most of its rivals as it posted the largest 2011 profit by a western bank. HSBC said on Monday it was confident growth in Asia, Latin American and the Middle East would continue to offset sluggish European economies this year.

The trial to decide who should pay for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been delayed by a week, to allow BP Plc to try to cut a deal with tens of thousands of businesses and individuals affected by the disaster.

Lowe’s Cos (NYSE:LOW), the world’s second-largest home improvement chain, reported higher-than-expected quarterly sales as a warm winter prompted many homeowners to take up renovation projects that they normally save for the spring. The company’s sales rose 11 percent to $11.63 billion in the fourth quarter that ended on February 3. Net income rose to $322 million, or 26 cents a share, from $285 million, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier. For the current fiscal year, Lowe’s forecast earnings of $1.75 to $1.85 a share.

Japan’s Olympus Corp proposed a new board of directors on Monday in an effort to recover from a $1.7 billion accounting fraud, but the line-up could face a hostile reception from foreign investors when it goes to a shareholder vote.






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