Stock and Commodities
U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday for the third session in four, with market direction largely dictated by the swings in shares of Apple, the largest company in the world. The S&P 500 appeared set for a strong move off a nine-month high as Apple Inc shares gained 3 percent in early trading. But Apple, the largest company by market capitalization, turned negative around midday and closed down 2.3 percent to $497.67, quickly reversing the Nasdaq index's advance. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 97.33 points, or 0.76 percent, to 12,780.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 7.27 points, or 0.54 percent, to 1,343.23. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 16.00 points, or 0.55 percent, to 2,915.83.
Brent crude oil extended its run-up on Wednesday, closing at an eight-month high on escalating Middle East tensions, while copper fell on possible delays to Greece's bailout package. On the agricultural front, soybeans hit new four-month highs as dry weather threatened crops in South America. Cocoa had its biggest gain in nearly three weeks after West African supplies slowed. Uncertainties about whether Greece will avoid a messy debt default, along with worries about rising geopolitical tensions in Syria and Iran and patchy U.S. economic growth for January, have basically led to mixed action in markets this week.