Stocks slightly lower on Greek talks worries

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Stocks fell in the United States and Europe on Tuesday as investors worried that a deal to cut Greece’s national debt and hold off a possible financial crisis might fall through.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 40 points at 12,669 just after 11:30 a.m. EST. It has risen or fallen less than 100 points in 13 straight trading sessions, the longest stretch of calm since March and April of last year.

In Europe, the Greek stock market was down 5.5 percent. Stocks were down less than 1 percent in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

A deal between the Greek government and the banks that hold Greek national bonds is considered to the stability of the European financial system. Investors fear that if Greece can’t pay its debt, it could trigger a panic.

Greece is trying to get its private creditors to swap their Greek government bonds for new ones with half their face value. But the interest rate has been a stumbling block. Greece faces an important bond repayment deadline in March.

At home, a slew of corporate earnings reports didn’t do much to ease investors’ fears.

Kimberly-Clark Corp., which makes Kleenex tissues, Huggies diapers and a number of other household goods, said rising costs pushed its net income down 19 percent in the fourth quarter. The stock fell 2.5 percent.

DuPont Co. said its fourth-quarter net income dipped as lower sales and higher costs overshadowed higher prices. But its results still beat analysts’ expectations. DuPont stock was up 0.7 percent.

The stock of coal producer Peabody Energy Corp. was hit the hardest Tuesday among companies that reported earnings. Its results and its forecast for the first quarter fell well short of expectations. Peabody stock fell 6 percent.

Leading the pack of companies trading higher after reporting earnings, bag and accessories maker Coach Inc. gained more than 6 percent after quarterly net income rose almost 15 percent because of stronger holiday sales.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down two points at 1,313. The Nasdaq composite turned higher after opening in the red. It gained four points to 2,787.

Among other stocks making large moves:

— Zions Bancorporation fell 8 percent, the most of any stock in the S&P 500, after the Salt Lake City bank reported income that fell far short of Wall Street’s expectations. At least one analyst downgraded the stock.

— Hard disk drive maker Western Digital Corp. led gainers in the S&P after reporting that its results handily beat Wall Street’s expectations. The stock jumped 6 percent.