US STOCKS-Shares falter as Greece debt fears spread

* Moody’s Investors Service likely to downgrade Portugal

* U.S. private sector added jobs in April

* Pace of growth in services sector unchanged in April

* Dow down 0.7 pct, S&P down 0.6 pct, Nasdaq down 0.9 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates midafternoon)

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, May 5 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) slipped on
Wednesday on worries that Greece’s debt crisis could spread to
other euro zone nations, but losses were pared as some
investors looked for bargains a day after a hefty sell-off.

Doubts about Europe’s plan to rescue Greece and fears its
debt problems could hinder global growth drove investors to
safe-havens, boosting U.S. Treasuries and driving down European
stocks and the euro.

European leaders warned the euro zone debt crisis could
spread beyond Greece, and Moody’s Investors Service said
Portugal could be next to have its debt downgraded.

In a potentially positive sign, the German parliament’s
budget committee approved a draft law on Germany’s contribution
to a financial aid package for Greece. The news coincided with
an earlier bounce in stocks.

“The focus right now is primarily on how this is going to
play out in Europe, how much damage is going to be done,” said
Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald & Co, in
San Francisco.

“How this gets resolved will tell the rest of the euro
countries that are under pressure, ‘Here are the parameters for
help.'”

Resource and industrial stocks, sensitive to the outlook of
global economic growth, weighed on the market. Energy shares
were also pressured as the price of oil fell nearly $3 to
$79.87 a barrel.

The S&P Energy Index (.GSPE: ) was down 1.5 percent and
Chevron Corp (CVX.N: ) shares eased 1 percent to $79.99.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) fell 77.02 points,
or 0.70 percent, to 10,849.75. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index
(.SPX: ) lost 7.48 points, or 0.64 percent, to 1,166.12. The
Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) was down 21.59 points, or 0.89
percent, to 2,402.66.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Declining stocks outnumbered advancing shares by 3 to 1 on
the New York Stock Exchange.

Even so, Wall Street’s losses were modest compared with
Tuesday’s more than 2 percent decline. Michael James, senior
trader at regional investment bank Wedbush Morgan in Los
Angeles, said traders were looking for buying opportunities
generated by the volatility.

“Bigger picture, U.S. investors continue to be of the
opinion that corrections are to be bought,” said James.

Big-cap consumer staples names were among the winners on
the Dow, including retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: ), up
1.3 percent at $54.73 as it rose for a second straight day, and
Coca-Cola Co (KO.N: ),up 0.8 percent to $53.57.

Protests in Greece against the government’s planned
austerity plan turned violent. Protesters clashed with police
as tens of thousands of strikers marched, and three people died
when rioters set a central Athens bank ablaze.

The flight from risky assets pushed up the U.S. dollar
(.DXY: ), considered a safe-haven investment, and the greenback
gained 0.8 percent against a basket of major currencies.

Data on the U.S. private sector job market and the
economy’s services sector were generally positive and cushioned
the negative tone.

The Institute for Supply Management said the pace of growth
in the U.S. services sector, which accounts for some two-thirds
of U.S. economic activity, was unchanged in April compared with
March, while a separate report showed the U.S. private labor
sector added 32,000 jobs in April. [ID:nN05176572]

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(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

US STOCKS-Shares falter as Greece debt fears spread