March 24th, 2010
05:56 PM ET

Stocks slip, dollar surges

A look at highlights from the day's business news:

Stocks slip on Portugal credit woes

Stocks closed lower Wednesday as the dollar strengthened on fears tied to the growing fiscal crisis in Europe and a dour report on U.S. sales of new homes raised concerns about the economic recovery.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 53 points, or 0.5 percent. The S&P 500 index slid 6 points, or 0.5 percent. The Nasdaq composite dropped 16 points, or 0.7 percent. All three indexes remain near the highest levels since late September 2008.

Stocks opened lower after ratings agency Fitch cut Portugal's sovereign credit rating one notch, reigniting concerns that the debt problems of struggling European economies like Greece are spreading and could hurt stronger members of the European Union.

The downgrade battered the euro, which fell to a 10-month low versus the dollar. The stronger greenback weighed on commodity prices, driving oil down 1.7 percent.

Stocks were also pressured by weaker-than-expected reports on new-home sales and durable goods orders. But analysts said the data are consistent with an economic recovery, albeit an uneven one.

Dollar surges to 10-month high versus euro 

The dollar climbed to a 10-month high versus the euro on Wednesday amid growing concern about struggling European nations.       

What prices are doing: The dollar climbed 1.3 percent versus the euro to $1.3320, the highest level since May 2009, said Brian Dolan, a chief currency strategist at

The dollar rose 1.13 percent against the British pound to $1.4877. Against the Japanese yen, the dollar jumped 2.08 percent to ¥92.27.

On Tuesday, the dollar was lifted against major currencies as investors worried that an agreement on a rescue package for Greece would not be reached at this week's European Union summit.

What's moving the markets: Rating agency Fitch lowered Portugal's sovereign credit rating on Wednesday, fueling further concern about the global economic recovery.       

Treasurys drop after auctions

Treasury prices continued falling on Wednesday after the latest auction of government debt. 

What prices are doing: The benchmark 10-year note fell 1-7/32 to 98-9/32 and its yield rose to 3.84 percent. The 30-year bond fell 1-29/32 to 98-12/32 with a yield of 4.73 percent. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The 5-year note fell 24/32 to 99-2/32 with a yield of 2.58 percent. The 2-year note was flat at 99-26/32 with a yield of 1.1 percent.

What's moving the market: U.S. debt prices fell after a $44 billion issue of 2-year notes on Tuesday and continued to fall after an auction of 5-year notes on Wednesday.

Oil drops on euro woes, supply build

Oil fell Wednesday after a report showed increased oil stockpiles and instability in Europe sparked worries that energy demand and economic recovery may be slower to materialize.   

What prices are doing: Crude for May delivery dropped $1.30 to settle at $80.61 a barrel.

What's moving the market: Prices fell after the Energy Information

Administration released its weekly crude inventory report showing a larger-than-expected build in supplies. reporters Ben Rooney, Blake Ellis, Annalyn Censky and Chavon Sutton contributed to this report.

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