From The Associated Press
NEW YORK —
Stocks edged lower in early trading on a mix of worrying developments across the globe.
The threat of the European debt crisis re-emerged as bond yields on Portuguese debt yields spiked and the country’s government teetered on the edge of collapse. Oil climbed above $102 a barrel for the first time in more than a year as the political crisis in Egypt intensified, raising the risk of supply disruptions in the Suez Canal.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 7 points, or 0.05 percent, to 14,926 after the first half-hour of trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 5 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,609.43. The Nasdaq composite was little changed at 3,432.
In Europe, stock markets slumped after the yield on Portugal’s benchmark 10-year bond surged more than a percentage point to 7.71 percent. Investors are worried about the future of the bailed-out country and its efforts to get a handle on its debts after two Cabinet members quit the government.
“Overseas news has certainly played a role in U.S. market opening on the weak side this morning,” said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial Group. “You have political unrest in Egypt, which has helped propel oil prices back above $100. We’re also starting to see a re-emergence of political risk in Europe, which is stirring the pot.”
The bad news from overseas was offset by some encouraging news on U.S. hiring.
Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, evidence that layoffs remain low and job gains steady, the Labor Department said. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to 343,000. In a separate report, payroll processing firm ADP said that U.S. employers added 188,000 jobs in June, more than the 155,000 forecast by economists.
In U.S. government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged at 2.48 percent from Tuesday.
The price of oil climbed $1.85, or 1.9 percent, to $101.46. Oil has climbed 8 percent since Monday last week.
The New York stock exchange will close at 1 p.m. today before the July 4 holiday. The stock market will reopen on Friday. The dollar rose against the euro and fell against the Japanese yen.