Stocks lower day after Dow's blip above 13,000

SAMANTHA BOMKAMP AP Business Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- A day after Dow 13,000, investors took a break.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 20 points to 12,945 as of 3:20 p.m. Eastern. The day before, it briefly touched 13,000 for the first time since May 2008.

Investors were worried about the details of a new debt deal reached for Greece this week. Mostly, analysts said, investors were in a holding pattern after seeing the market hit an important psychological mark.

"The market is pausing for the next slew of good news," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING Investment Management. "The real U.S. economy continues to march along while the attention is on Europe."

The Dow has been trading at or near four-year highs for three weeks and is up 6 percent so far this year. Strong corporate earnings have been a key factor driving the gains this year, Cote said. Per-share earnings at S&P 500 companies rose 6.2 percent in the fourth quarter on a 7.1 percent increase in revenue.

The Dow traded in a tiny range of just 63 points. Over the past year, it has had smaller trading ranges on only nine other days. The average daily range over that time has been 181 points.

Investors worried that Greece's new $170 billion deal announced Tuesday may not be enough to keep the debt-laden from eventually defaulting and possibly exiting the euro. The Greek economy is entering its fifth year of recession. Fitch ratings agency downgraded Greece further into junk status Wednesday morning following the bailout deal.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 fell 3 points to 1,358. Energy and health care were the only sectors gaining ground. Financial stocks lost the most. The Nasdaq composite index lost 12 points to 2,936.

So far this year, the S&P 500 is up 8 percent, while the Nasdaq has climbed nearly 13 percent.

"The market has done well in the face of some pretty low expectations," said Todd Salamone of Schaeffer's Investment Research. "Right now we're just seeing a few speed bumps."

Salamone said he believes investors will continue to focus more on negative news overseas despite a slew of better news on the U.S. economy. Last week Congress extended the payroll tax cut and the government reported that claims for unemployment benefits dropped to their lowest level since the financial crisis. The next report on unemployment claims is due out Thursday.

European markets closed lower. In Asia, stocks mostly rose even after a fairly weak Chinese manufacturing survey. The dollar rose to a seven-month high against the Japanese yen.

Among U.S. stocks making big moves:

-- Computer maker Dell Inc. fell 6 percent after reporting an 18 percent drop in first-quarter profit late Tuesday, hurt by slow sales to government agencies, tough competition from Apple Inc. and flooding in Thailand that disrupted its supply chain.

-- Toll Brothers Inc. fell 3 percent after the luxury homebuilder posted a first-quarter loss, but reported an increased number of signed contracts and backlog, important measures for coming months.

-- GPS maker Garmin Ltd. jumped 8 percent after its fourth-quarter net income rose 25 percent on higher prices and sales. The company's results and 2012 revenue forecast beat Wall Street's expectations.