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US stocks creep lower on worries about slowing German economy; Coca-Cola leads Dow lower
NEW YORK (AP) ' U.S. stocks were slightly lower Wednesday morning as worries about a recession in Europe outweighed hopes that the U.S. economic recovery will gather steam. Grocery store operator Supervalu plunged after reporting a wider loss.
The Dow Jones industrial average is down 63 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,401 after the first half-hour of trading. Coca-Cola sank 2 percent, the most in the Dow. Microsoft Corp. edged down 1.2 percent after the software maker said late Tuesday that sales of personal computers will likely drop.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index is down 6 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,285. The Nasdaq composite is down 11 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,690.
New figures Wednesday implied Germany's economy contracted slightly in the fourth quarter. The European Commission also said Hungary has taken "no effective action" to contain its deficit. Stocks markets in Germany and France fell half a percent and the euro dropped 0.4 percent against the dollar.
Among companies making big moves:
' Urban Outfitters Inc. dropped 19 percent, the most in the S&P 500, following the abrupt resignation of its CEO, Glen Senk. The company, which also runs the Anthropologie and Free People stores, said last week that tough competition and a drive to reduce inventory led to more markdowns than expected during the holiday shopping season.
' Supervalu Inc. plunged 10 percent. The grocery store operator, which owns the Albertsons and Jewel-Osco chains, reported a wider loss because of high food prices and costs related to a turnaround plan. The company cut its forecast for full-year sales for the second quarter in a row.
' Commercial Metals Co. fell 2.4 percent to $14.40 after the investor Carl Icahn said he would end his hostile takeover attempt of the company. Only 23 percent of Commercial Metals' shareholders supported Icahn's $15-per-share offer, far short of Icahn's goal of 40.1 percent.
' Lennar Corp. rose 3 percent. Sales rose as the builder delivered more houses. Lennar reported a drop in quarterly earnings but said the housing market is starting to stabilize with the help of lower home prices and low interest rates.
The Dow closed at its highest point since July 26 on Tuesday, following European markets higher after Fitch Ratings said that it would not downgrade France's credit rating this year. The average of 30 large company stocks is up 1.7 percent to start the year. The S&P 500 is up 2.4 percent.