Stocks Tumble as Greece Woes Escalate

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mounting concerns about Greece drove markets down Monday after talks between the country and its creditors broke down. U.S. stocks fell, while major indexes in Europe took much bigger losses.

Greece's long-running debt crisis took a dangerous turn over the weekend after Greece's Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, said his government will hold a referendum on proposals made by the country's lenders. European officials refused to extend the country's bailout program, which expires on Tuesday, the same day it's supposed to make a debt payment to the International Monetary Fund.

The European Central Bank also capped its emergency support for the country's banks. That prompted the Greek government to close banks and announce limits on withdrawals. Daily cash withdrawals are capped at 60 euros ($67) per account.

"Whenever you see any kind of bank line there is in the back of investors' mind the thought: 'What if it spreads? What if people panic?' " said Karyn Cavanaugh, senior market strategist at Voya Investment Management. "What's going on in Europe, of course it's going to roil markets in the short term." But for U.S. investor, she said, "the long-term impact is not that big of a deal."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 26 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,076 as of 12:23 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 220 points, also 1.2 percent, to 17,723, and the Nasdaq composite fell 72 points, or 1.4 percent, to 5,009.

The losses were broad. Nine of the 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 index slumped. The only one that rose was utilities, a traditional safety play.

In Europe, Germany's DAX lost 3.6 percent while France's CAC-40 lost 3.7 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 2 percent. Greece's stock market was closed.

"The initial market reaction is negative," said Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at the brokerage BTIG, in a note to clients. But Greenhaus thinks that this episode in the European debt crisis isn't as dangerous as previous ones. "We do not think this is Armageddon for the global economy," he said.

The last time Greece's troubles shook U.S. markets, there were plenty of other problems. In 2012, Spain had entered a recession, and the worry was that it was too big of a country to rescue. Sputtering U.S. job growth added to the anxiety. That spring, the S&P 500 index lost 9.9 percent within two months. Investors sought the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds, driving long-term interest to historic lows.

Back then, the fear was that a financial crisis would spread from Greece to the rest of Europe "because these economies were very fragile," Cavanaugh said. The cost to borrow for 10 years topped 7 percent for Spain and 11 percent for Portugal in 2012. Even with recent turbulence, Spain's 10-year bond yields 2.32 percent, and Portugal's 10-year bond yields 2.87 percent.

In other trading on Monday, Sysco said it scrapped a proposed $3.5 billion buyout of US Foods after the Federal Trade Commission blocked the deal to combine the two food-service companies.

The FTC argued that the merger it would reduce competition by putting three-quarters of the U.S. market for restaurant suppliers under the control of one company. Scuttling the deal means Sysco has to pay US Foods $300 million in breakup fees. Sysco's stock sank 87 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $37.50.

U.S. government bond prices jumped, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.35 percent from 2.47 percent late Friday. The euro rose to $1.1184 against the dollar from $1.1160.

In commodities trading, benchmark U.S. oil fell $1.24 to $58.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.44 to $61.82 a barrel in London.

The Nikkei 225 stock average in Tokyo slid 2.9 percent following news of a steep drop in industrial production. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 3.3 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 2.6 percent despite a surprise interest rate cut from China's central bank.

(KA)