Greek Default Risk to Drag on Dow

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LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is likely to open down by nearly 1% this morning, as eurozone fears rise to the surface again after a weekend of fruitless coalition talks in Greece.

A Greek default and euro exit is now being openly discussed, although last-ditch coalition talks are continuing in Athens. No domestic economic data is due today, meaning that traders' attention will inevitably be drawn to European markets.

European finance ministers are meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow to discuss growth plans, and any developments will be keenly awaited. The latest official statistics show that eurozone industrial output contracted by 0.3% in March, against expectations of 0.4% growth. In European trading this morning, all the major markets fell, with the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) , DAX 30 and CAC 40 all down by around 2% at lunchtime.


The yield on Greek 10-year bonds rose to 27.2% this morning, while at the other end of the spectrum the desire for safe havens drove the yield on German 10-year bonds down to 1.46%. Spanish and Italian 10-year debt yields also rose further, highlighting the fear of wider contamination if Greece defaults.

The same concerns meant that big banks topped the list of fallers in London, with Lloyds Banking Group (NYS: LYG) , Barclays (NYS: BCS) , and Royal Bank of Scotland all down by more than 5% by late morning.Expect the ADRs of all of these banks to fall in morning trading when the markets open.

In company news, JPMorgan Chase could see further hostile selling as the fallout from its highly public $2 billion hedging loss fiasco -- which includes a downgraded credit rating -- continues. Also in the news will be Avon Cosmetics, which has committed to provide a response to Coty's Buffett-backed buyout bid today. After falling on Friday, the cosmetics direct retailer was up strongly in pre-market trading this morning.

Chesapeake Energy (NYS: CHK) was also trading strongly before the markets opened, following news that it has secured a new line of credit from Goldman Sachs to give it breathing space while it completes its planned asset sales. Reports over the weekend suggested activist investor Carl Icahn had taken a substantial stake in Chesapeake, which could herald further changes at the beleaguered energy firm.

Although the Avon bid has drawn billionaire investor Warren Buffett's attention back home, he has been persuaded to invest more than $1 billion in a leading British blue chip. The legendary investor bought a famous British name with global expansion potential -- and you can discover the identity of the company and the price he paid in this special free report.

In earnings news today, daily-deals giant Groupon is expected to release quarterly earnings after the markets close tonight. Analysts expect to see revenue of about $530 million with a loss of $0.05 per share.

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At the time this article was published Roland Head owns no shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Chesapeake Energy. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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