NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks edged lower in midday trading with bank stocks leading the way down.
Stocks opened higher Monday but quickly fell after an hour of trading. Cautious comments from the head of the European Central bank soured any hopes the ECB would find a resolution to Europe’s debt crisis anytime soon.
Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley fell nearly 6 percent. JPMorgan Chase & Co. lost more than 4 percent, the biggest drop among the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial average.
“If Europe is going to be bring us down it’s going to come through the financial firms,” said J.J. Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade.
A report in The Wall Street Journal also said U.S. regulators will likely force U.S. banks to follow stricter rules to shore up their finances. The new rules are aimed at keeping banks from failing but would pinch profits.
The Dow fell 51, or 0.4 percent to 11,814 as of 12 noon Eastern time. Pfizer Inc. was the Dow’s leading stock, rising 1.2 percent.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 7 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,212. The Nasdaq composite index fell 10, or 0.4 percent, to 2,545.
Among companies making large moves, Winn-Dixie soared 71 percent. The supermarket chain is being sold to Bi-Lo LLC, another supermarket operator with stores in the southern U.S., in a deal valued at $560 million.
Cablevision Systems Corp. rose 1 percent after an analyst from Citibank said a recent drop in the company’s stock seemed “way overdone.” The stock has lost 27 percent from the end of October through last Friday following the unexpected resignation of its chief operating officer.
Commercial Metals Co. dropped 1 percent. The company’s board rejected a $1.7 billion takeover bid from the investor Carl Icahn, saying the proposed deal undervalued the company.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index inched up two points to 21 in December, the highest level since May 2010. But any reading below 50 is still a negative outlook.
© 2011 The Associated Press