US STOCKS-S&P, Dow dip after Ireland debt downgrade

* Moody’s downgrades Ireland by five notches

* Canada’s BMO to buy Marshall & Ilsley for $4.1 bln

* Indexes: Dow off 0.3 pct, S&P off 0.1 pct, Nasdaq flat

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

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, Dec 17 (BestGrowthStock) – The S&P 500 and Dow were
slightly lower on Friday, weighed by renewed concerns over euro
zone debt after Ireland’s credit rating was slashed.

European bank stocks were hit hard after Moody’s cut
Ireland’s rating by five notches. European Union leaders have
agreed to create a financial safety net and the European
Central Bank will double its capital to cope with bigger credit
risk. For details, see [ID:nLDE6BG0EG]

U.S.-listed shares of Allied Irish Bank (AIB.N: ) fell 4
percent to $1.25, while Barclays (BCS.N: ) dropped 2.4 percent to
$16.20.

“Obviously everyone is focusing on Europe, but since it has
been with us for awhile, the market is not too concerned. We
are more consolidating some of the gains we saw this month,”
said Mark Bronzo, portfolio manager at Security Global Advisors
in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) was down 29.37
points, or 0.26 percent, at 11,469.88. The Standard & Poor’s
500 Index (.SPX: ) was down 1.77 points, or 0.14 percent, at
1,241.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) was up 1.18
points, or 0.04 percent, at 2,638.49.

U.S. regional banks traded higher after Canada’s Bank of
Montreal (BMO.TO: ) agreed to buy Wisconsin-based regional lender
Marshall & Ilsley Corp (MI.N: ). Marshall & Ilsley jumped 19
percent to $6.89. [ID:nN1744360]

The KBW Regional Banks index (.KRX: ) was up nearly 1
percent. It has risen more than 13 percent this year, including
a gain of more than 12 percent in December alone despite
continued debt woes from European banks.

Mergers and acquisitions rose for the first year since
2007, and may mark the start of a new, multiyear M&A cycle,
with emerging economies accounting for a bigger piece of global
dealmaking, according to Thomson Reuters data. For full story
and other stories, see [ID:nLDE6BE0QQ] and [ID:nN16241182]

With the S&P 500 up 5 percent in December, some technical
analysts say the market is due for a pullback before the year’s
end.

“The index’s uptrend is intact, but upside potential
narrows as momentum becomes increasingly overbought,” said BBH
Equity Trading in a research note to clients.

“Near-term resistance and support for the S&P 500 are 1,247
and 1,233, respectively … 1,265 and 1,220 are the levels to
watch if this range is broken.”

Oracle Corp (ORCL.O: ) shares jumped 5.8 percent to $32 a day
after the software maker issued an upbeat forecast and
reported that quarterly sales surged. [ID:nN16257524]

Market volume and volatility could increase later in the
day as traders adjust or exercise derivative positions on four
different types of expiring equity futures and options
contracts, also know as “quadruple witching.”
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

US STOCKS-S&P, Dow dip after Ireland debt downgrade