Stocks Started Lower on Greece Concerns

U.S. stocks started lower on Monday, as Greece struggled for agreement on spending cuts needed to get another round of rescue funds. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 39.62 points to 12,822.61. The S&P 500 Index shed 3.46 points to 1,341.44. The Nasdaq Composite declined 9.54 points to 2,896.12.

Crucial austerity talks set for late Monday between Greece’s coalition party leaders are due to be pushed back for a day, the Prime Minister’s office said, despite strong pressure from the European Union for a speedy agreement so that the country can avoid a default on its debt.

Greece’s European partners tightened the screws on Athens on Monday, demanding that political leaders swiftly agree on more austerity measures in exchange for a new bailout package needed to avert a disastrous bankruptcy.

Top executives at Glencore and Xstrata are hammering out the final details of a proposed $80 billion merger, including the premium on offer by the commodities trading giant to secure approval from the miner’s shareholders.

Crude-oil futures traded lower Monday. Crude for March delivery declined 70 cents, or 0.7%, to $97.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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