US markets end mixed on continued Greece fears

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(Close): US markets ended Wednesday mixed, as investors fretted over news that the European Central Bank (ECB) had withdrawn a waiver allowing banks to use Greek debt as collateral.

The S&P 500 fell 8.52 points to 2,041.51, and the tech-focused Nasdaq shed 11.03 points to 4,716.70.

The Dow Jones ended the day slightly up, rising 6.62 points to 17,673.02.

Disney was the day's biggest winner, rising 7.6% after it reported a 33% rise in profits to $1.84bn (£1.12bn).

After markets closed on Tuesday, the entertainment giant said earnings were lifted by strong sales of merchandise related to its film Frozen.

ECB signal

Late on Wednesday the ECB announced that, as of next week, it would no longer accept Greek bonds as collateral from the country's banks, looking to raise money.

"Suspension is in line with existing Eurosystem rules, since it is currently not possible to assume a successful conclusion of the programme review," the ECB said in a statement.

The newly-elected Greek government is in talks with international creditors over the terms of its €240bn bailout.

The news sent the euro sharply lower against the dollar.


General Motors shares rose 5.4% after the carmaker's fourth-quarter earnings beat analysts' expectations.

Excluding one-off items, GM reported earnings per share of $1.19 for the quarter, well above forecasts of 83 cents. Net income was up to $1.1bn from $900m a year earlier.

Shares in Ralph Lauren sank more than 18% after the fashion house reduced its forecast for full-year revenue growth, the second time it has done so in four months.

The firm now expects revenue to grow by 4% on a constant currency basis for the year to the end of March.

In October, Ralph Lauren had cut its growth forecast to 5-7% from an earlier estimate of 6-8%.

"Foreign exchange and global consumer spending remain unpredictable, and we are planning our business accordingly," said chief operating officer Jacki Nemerov.