US stocks fall as Greek talks lumber; Apple falls

NEW YORK (AP) ? Stocks slumped Wednesday in one of their worst showings this year as Greece, slogging through negotiations with other countries over a bailout, once again cast a long shadow over the financial markets.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 109 points at its lowest level of the day before bouncing back to 12,793, down 85 points. The Dow has not suffered a triple-digit loss this year.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 and the Nasdaq composite index, after climbing tentatively through the morning, gave up their gains. The S&P was down five points to 1,345. The Nasdaq was down six points to 2,926.

The declines were broad, with all 10 industry groups in the S&P falling.

Apple shares went on a wild zigzag. After closing Tuesday at a record, $509.46 per share, they seemed destined to set another Wednesday, rising as high as $526.29. But the stock fell sharply at midday and was down $3.60 at $505.98.

The decline appeared to be caused by rumors that a powerful exchange-traded fund that tracks Nasdaq stocks would sell Apple. Funds sometimes do that when one stock rises so much that it makes up an outsized slice of the fund’s portfolio.

Invesco PowerShares, which runs the fund, known as the QQQ, didn’t immediately return a call and email seeking comment.

Greece loomed over the market again, as it has for weeks. It is trying to secure a second international bailout so it won’t default on its debt next month and rattle the global financial system.

On Wednesday, European finance ministers planned a conference call to discuss Greece, and a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply rejected rumors in financial markets that Germany had decided a Greek bankruptcy was acceptable.

For weeks, incremental movement in the Greek crisis has whipsawed U.S. stocks. Minor developments, like a vague commitment from China to buy European bonds or a report that a Greek party leader would agree to spending cuts, moved the market.

“Long story short, we long for the days when markets traded on fundamentals,” said David Katz, principal at WeiserMazars Wealth Advisors. He thinks stock picks have been ruled by emotion, rather than clear-eyed examinations of companies’ balance sheets, at least since the credit crunch in 2007 and the ensuing Great Recession.

“Just as quickly as you see the market pop up from one headline, then you see the downturn from another,” Katz said. “It doesn’t really have to be (big news). It’s not even the meat of the story, it’s the headline.”

Greece makes up just 2 percent of the total economic output of the 17 countries that use the euro. But investors are troubled by the fallout from a default and similar financial problems festering in other European countries, like Portugal, Italy and Spain.

“There is no shortage of people who would argue that Greece is a non-event,” said Dan McMahon, director of equity trading at Raymond James. “It’s more that it’s a barometer for the rest of the eurozone.”

Among the biggest movers in the U.S. market:

? Comcast, the cable provider, climbed 5 percent after beating Wall Street expectations for profit and revenue. It managed to slow the loss of customers as it added channels and better customer service.

? Kellogg rose 5 percent after announcing it would buy Pringles from Procter & Gamble. Diamond Foods had a deal to buy Pringles but got caught up in an accounting scandal that forced it to get rid of its top two executives last week. P&G was flat, and Diamond was up 7 percent.

? Abercrombie & Fitch soared 10 percent after the teen clothing store gave more details on its plans for opening more stores overseas, where profit margins can be higher because customers expect fewer clearance sales.

? Zynga, the maker of popular Facebook games like Farmville, plummeted 14 percent after saying it lost money in the fourth quarter and analysts said its growth was slowing significantly. Zynga went public in December.