Global markets fall as New Year holiday nears _lowres

FILE - This Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, file photo, shows the Wall Street entrance of the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. and global stocks fell Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, as investors closed their positions ahead of the New Year and amid concern over political uncertainty in Greece. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes fell Tuesday afternoon as investors wrapped up business ahead of the New Year holiday and watched financial markets in Greece.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 51 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,986 as of 1:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost eight points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,082 and the Nasdaq composite was down 23 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,783.

GREEK UNCERTAINTY: Greek stocks stabilized after a volatile day Monday as the country’s government was forced to call elections that could create more economic turmoil. Investors worry that the elections might be won by the left-wing opposition Syriza party, which rejects Greece’s bailout deal. The Athens stock market plunged as much as 11 percent on Monday before recovering some of those losses to close down 4 percent that day.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “An election puts all sorts of doubt on the future of the bailout agreement,” said Stan Shamu, a market strategist at IG Markets. “Potentially markets had already priced this in, but I would still remain cautious around Greece.”

EUROPE: France’s CAC 40 closed down 1.7 percent, Germany’s DAX dropped 1.2 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 1.3 percent.

CLOSING OUT THE YEAR: At this point, most major fund managers have closed their portfolios for 2014. Stock trading is expected to be quiet until the week after the New Year, when most of Wall Street is back from the long holiday weekend. Roughly 2.4 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, compared with the 3.5 billion typically traded on an average day.

With one more trading day in 2014, the S&P 500 is up 12.7 percent for the year, or up 15.4 percent, including dividends. That gain is almost double what stock market strategists expected at the beginning of the year.

“There were some negative surprises along the way, including the Ebola scare and increasing social tensions around the globe,” Gary Thayer, chief macro strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, wrote in a note to investors. “However, U.S. markets were able to weather these problems as (the U.S. economy) improved.”

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 119.34 yen from 120.66 yen while the euro rose to $1.2173 from $1.2154. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.18 percent from 2.20 percent Monday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 14 cents to $53.50 a barrel in New York. On Monday, the contract plunged $1.12 to settle at $53.61.


Youkyung Lee contributed to this story from Seoul, South Korea.