U.S. stocks edged lower in morning trading Monday as investors weighed the implications of a steep drop in U.S. home sales and the latest batch of corporate deal news. The market is coming off an all-time high reached last week.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 43 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,095 as of 11:10 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost three points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,106. The Nasdaq composite was down seven points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,948.
HOMES SALES PLUNGE: The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously occupied homes tumbled 4.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million. That brings sales down to their lowest level since last April. Weak sales last year set up expectations of a strong rebound this year, yet signs of that resurgence have yet to appear. Homebuilder shares slumped on the news. Century Communities declined the most, shedding 50 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $17.88.
THE QUOTE: "The home numbers are a little disappointing," said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management.
SECTOR WATCH: Seven of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 fell, with telecommunications services stocks notching the biggest decline. Health care stocks led the gainers.
GETTING DRILLED: Several offshore oil drilling and services companies tumbled in early trading. Ensco shed 99 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $28.77. Denbury Resources lost 30 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $8.61. Nabors Industries shed 43 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $13.09. Transocean fell 48 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $16.54.
DRUGMAKERS COMBINE: Shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International surged a day after the Canadian drugmaker announced it has agreed to buy Salix Pharmaceuticals for about $10 billion in cash. Valeant rose $30.29, or 13.9 percent, to $247.70. Shares in Salix slipped $1.79, or 1.1 percent, to $156.06.
OVERSEAS MARKETS: In Europe, France's CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent and Germany's DAX gained 0.4 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.7 percent and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.4 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was little changed after trading reopened following Lunar New Year holidays.
GREECE'S DEAL: Greece and its European creditors reached an agreement that staved off the threat of bankruptcy and exit from the euro, though hurdles remain to cementing the short-term funding deal. The four-month extension averted bankruptcy and capital controls and ensures banks will have enough money to stock up their ATMs. But the Greek government must present economic reform measures by the end of Monday that are deemed acceptable by creditors and rooted in Greece's previously enacted bailout agreement, which is something the government had promised not to do.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.14 to $49.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.02 on Friday to $50.81.
BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.08 percent from 2.11 percent late Friday.
AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo contributed to this report.