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US stocks open up; euro dives on Greece turmoil

Daniel Wagner, AP Business Writer

In this May 11, 2012, photo, trader Edward Curran, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Wall Street was headed for a higher opening Tuesday May 15, 2012, with Dow Jones industrial futures rising 0.4 percent while S&P 500 futures added 0.5 percent. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Stronger news about the U.S. economy stilled the ripples from Europe's latest political impasse Tuesday, pushing U.S. stocks between small gains and losses in early trading.

The euro and European stocks plunged as trading in New York began after efforts to form a government in Greece collapsed. Newly-elected political leaders there are unable to agree about whether to accept more international bailouts and continue with painful spending cuts.

In the U.S., a survey by the New York Fed found that manufacturing activity in the New York region rebounded this month far more strongly than economists had expected. Retail sales rose modestly in April, the government said.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 22 points to 12,717 as of 10:10 a.m. EDT. The average was lifted by JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, shaking off some recent losses related to a surprise $2 billion trading loss that JPMorgan admitted to last week.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose three points to 1,341. The Nasdaq composite index rose 11 to 2,913.

The euro fell as low as $1.2769, a four-month low against the dollar, after Greek socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos declared that attempts to form a governing coalition there had failed and new elections will be held next month. Many fear that parties opposed to the terms of the country's financial rescue will be elected, which could lead to Greece getting kicked out of the euro and turmoil on global markets.

Stock indexes in France, Britain and Germany had been up, but fell after Venizelos' remarks.

Before the market opened in the U.S., the government said retail sales rose slowly in April, possibly because of lower gasoline prices and an earlier-than-usual start to the spring shopping season. April's gain of 0.1 percent was far weaker than the increases in February and March.

U.S. consumer prices were flat last month as cheaper gas offset modest increases for food, clothing and housing. The data indicate that inflation remains in check, according to the Labor Department.

Two big retailers sank after reporting disappointing financial results. Saks dropped 4 percent after weaker than expected revenue, despite a solid increase in its profit during the first quarter. Home Depot fell 3 percent after the company issued a revenue forecast that was weaker than analysts had projected.

Home Depot slumped 3 percent, the most of the 30 companies in the Dow, after the world's biggest home-improvement company forecast revenue that was below what Wall Street analysts were expecting.

Among other stocks making big moves:

— TJX Cos., which owns the T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods store chains, shot up 7 percent, the most in the S&P 500 index. The discount retailer reported a 58 percent surge in first-quarter income and raised its full-year profit forecast.

— Avon Products Inc. 10 percent, the most in the S&P 500 index, after Coty Inc. canceled its unsolicited, $10.7 billion bid for the cosmetics retailer.

— Groupon leapt 17 percent after the online daily discount site reported first-quarter revenue that exceeded analysts' expectations.


Daniel Wagner can be reached at www.twitter.com/wagnerreports .