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Greece Again Weighs on European ETFs

tlydon@globaltrend.com (Tom Lydon)

Stocks in Europe fell Monday while gold exchange traded funds were set for a higher open in the U.S. as concerns over Greek debt pulled equities lower.

Banks were leading the declines in Europe. Greece must cut back its public sector and improve tax collection to avoid default within weeks, international lenders told Greece before a conference call between the Greek finance minister and senior officials from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Reuters reported.

The iShares MSCI Germany (NYSEArca: EWG - News) was down 3.9% in premarket action. In U.S. stocks, SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY - News) slipped 1.3%. In commodities, U.S. Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO - News) fell 1% while SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD - News) rose 0.7% on the European debt crisis.

“The Greek situation could be coming to a head,” said Khiem Do, head of multi-asset strategy at Baring Asset Management, in a Bloomberg report. “Some hair cut might be needed for Greece if they don’t receive additional funding. That could create a domino effect in countries like Spain, Italy and Portugal. That’s what the market is fearing.”

The euro fell slightly against the dollar while U.S. Treasury ETFs were poised for a higher open – iShares Barclays 20+ Treasury Year Bond (NYSEArca: TLT - News) rose 1.1% before the opening bell.

Markets could be volatile this week as the Federal Reserve meets on Tuesday and Wednesday. Expectations have built up that the Fed may announce further stimulus in response to weak economic data and Europe’s debt turmoil.

SPDR S&P 500

Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own SPY and GLD.