US stocks head lower; European markets sink

US stocks head lower to start the week; European markets sink lower

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- The US stock market sank in early trading Monday, ahead of a full week of economic reports and earnings. Major indexes turned lower following a report of sluggish sales in the housing market.

In Europe, concerns about the economic cost of sanctions on Russia weighed on major markets.

KEEPING SCORE: As of 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 9 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,967. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 68 points, 0.4 percent, to 16,892 while the Nasdaq composite dropped 21 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,429. The three major U.S. indexes are holding on to their modest gains for the month. With one trading week left in July, the S&P 500 remains up 0.6 percent.

HOUSING: Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in June, as the real estate market appears to have cooled off this summer. The National Association of Realtors said that pending home sales index slipped 1.1 percent last month. A combination of meager wage growth and higher home prices have helped slow down sales.

FOR SALE: Family Dollar soared after Dollar Tree announced plans to buy the rival discount store for roughly $8.5 billion. Family Dollar has responded to recent struggles by cutting prices, shedding workers and closing stores. Last month, Carl Icahn, who has built up a stake in the company, urged Family Dollar to put itself up for sale. In early trading, Family Dollar's stock shot up $13.14, or 22 percent, to $73.88, making it the leading stock in the S&P 500. Dollar Tree also surged, adding $1.36, or 2 percent, to $55.55.

HOUSE SURFING: Trulia jumped on news that Zillow, a rival real-estate listing service, said it has agreed to buy its competitor for $3.5 billion. Boards of both companies have already signed off on the deal, but both companies' shareholders still need to approve it. Trulia advanced $4.65, or 8 percent, to $61.09. Zillow slumped $9.63, or 6 percent, to $149.01.

KEY REPORTS: Traders were looking ahead to a collection of U.S. economic data due out later this week. On Wednesday, the government's report on second-quarter gross domestic product is expected to show growth picking up. On Friday, economists forecast that the monthly jobs report will show employers added between 235,000 and 255,000 workers to their payrolls in July.

EUROPE: In European markets, France's CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent while Germany's DAX shed 0.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.1 percent.

CHINA'S STABLE SIGNS: News that profits at China's industrial enterprises soared 17.9 percent in June over a year earlier suggested that the world's No. 2 economy has stabilized and gave Asian markets a boost. China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index surged 2.4 percent.

RUSSIA: Sentiment in Europe was more muted amid tensions between Western powers and Russia. On Monday, an international court ordered Russia to pay over $50 billion to a group of investors for the expropriation of now-defunct oil company Yukos. The ruling comes as European countries are considering imposing sanctioning trade in defense, technology and other goods and restricting access to European capital markets for Russian state-owned companies.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "There is no sign that geopolitics is de-escalating, which should benefit safe-haven assets," while the "macro backdrop in Asia should be one of improvement," said Credit Agricole CIB in a report.

CURRENCIES, OIL: The euro edged up to $1.3436 from the previous session's $1.3431. The dollar rose to 101.85 yen from 101.83 yen. The price of benchmark U.S. crude oil declined 87 cents to $101.22 per barrel.

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