US Stocks Edge Up As Greece Negotiates To Cut Debt

Published January 23, 2012 3:27PM (EST)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are slightly higher, following a rise in European markets on hopes that Greece will reach a deal with private creditors on lowering its debt.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 42 points to 12,764 a half-hour after the opening bell Monday. That's a gain of 0.3 percent. Bank of America Corp is the Dow's leading stock, rising 4 percent.

If those early gains hold, the Dow would close at its highest level since last April.

Creditors are in negotiations with the Greek government to reduce that country's debt burden so it can avoid default. European finance ministers are expected to give new momentum to a Greek debt relief deal. One proposal would have Greece's private creditors, which include banks and other investors, swap their bonds for news ones at a 50 percent discount. That would cut the country's debts by some $129 billion.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 7 points to 1,322, a gain of 0.5 percent. The Nasdaq composite is up 17 points to 2,804.

Energy companies are making large moves in early trading. Chesapeake Energy Corp. jumped 6 percent after the country's second-largest natural gas producer said it plans to cut production. Other natural gas producers shot higher. Southwestern Energy Co. rose 7.5 percent and Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. 7.6 percent.

Apache Corp. climbed 2 percent after the oil and gas producer said it plans on buying Cordillera Energy Partners in a $2.85 billion deal.

Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of BlackBerry mobile devices, sank 7 percent after its new chief executive said no drastic changes are needed. The company's founders announced they were stepping down as co-CEOs late Sunday.

By Salon Staff

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