Stocks Opened Lower as Greece Talks Continued

U.S. stocks opened weaker on Friday as investors remained cautious ahead of the outcome of a key meeting between Greece and Eurogroup ministers. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately dropped 102.72 points, or 0.57%, to 17,883.05. The S&P 500 fell 10.75 points, or 0.51%, to 2,086.70. The Nasdaq Composite was off 16.85 points, or 0.34%, to 4,907.85.

Greece’s new prime minister said on Friday he was certain euro zone finance ministers would accept Athens’ request for an extended loan as EU paymaster Germany softened its hostile tone.

The flash reading of the Markit manufacturing purchasing managers index edged higher in February to 54.3 from 53.9 in January, to mark the highest reading since November.

Brent crude oil rose towards $61 (40 pounds) a barrel on Friday as expectations of falling U.S. rig count numbers outweighed concerns about oversupply. Brent crude futures (LCOc1) for April were up 56 cents at $60.77 by 1315 GMT, having hit an intraweek low of $57.80 in the previous session.

Deere & Co., the largest maker of farm equipment, cut its 2015 earnings forecast as lower crop prices reduce farmer spending on high-horsepower tractors and combines in North America.Net income will be about $1.8 billion in the fiscal year through October, Moline, Illinois- based Deere said Friday in a statement. That’s less than the company’s November projection for about $1.9 billion.

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