Why the Dow finished flat as a pancake

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose as high as 12,764 in overnight trading before falling below where it started, as investors grew more nervous about Europe. Europe has still not finalised the terms of a second bailout package for Greece, and the EU agreed to ban imports of Iranian crude starting July 1.

After a bit of up, a bit of down and a little shake it all around, the Dow closed down 11 points or a very underwhelming 0.09 per cent.

After the EU announced the import ban, Iran reiterated threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. While the embargo will not likely have an effect on world prices, if Iran were to follow through on trying to block the Strait and a conflict arose, oil prices could skyrocket.

Leading the Dow down was Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG). The stock fell down 1.86 per cent to $65 after Stifel Nicolaus downgraded the stock from buy to hold after cutting its earnings forecast for the company. Procter & Gamble reports earnings on Friday. Analysts expect earnings per share of $1.08 and revenue of $22.2 billion.

Outdoing Procter and Gamble was Travelers (NYSE: TRV), which fell 2.11 per cent to $60.29. The $25 billion insurance giant reports earnings tomorrow. Analysts expect earnings per share of $1.52 and revenue of $5.5 billion.

Here in Australia, the SPI futures have closed up 16 points. The Australian dollar continues to defy gravity, now trading above $US1.05.

The AFR reports December quarterly production reports are due from Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM), Western Areas (ASX: WSA), Aquarius Platinum (ASX: AQP)Oil Search (ASX: OSH) and PanAust (ASX: PNA)

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