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Wall Street flat as data offsets Greece

Oct 3, 2011, 9:28 a.m.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 23, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks were little changed on Monday as positive U.S. economic data helped to offset fears Greece may require increased euro zone financial assistance after news it will exceed its deficit targets.

Wall Street began the new quarter with choppy trading after falling on Friday to end its the weakest quarter since 2008. The decline was sparked in part by worries over the financial crisis in Europe and the threat of recession that could drag down economies around the world.

Greece's draft budget sent to parliament on Monday showed Athens would miss its deficit targets for both this year and next despite harsh new austerity measures.

The revelations brought the specter of a Greece default closer as euro zone finance ministers met to discuss the next steps toward resolving the currency area's sovereign debt crisis.

"This news isn't surprising, but if Greece continues to have problems that could really drag Europe into recession, and possibly the U.S. as well," said Randall Warren, chief investment officer of Warren Financial Service in Exton, Pennsylvania.

Stocks briefly rebounded after the Institute for Supply Management's September manufacturing index topped consensus forecasts and the government said August construction spending unexpectedly rose.

"The data supports the minority view that things are going to get better," Warren said. "You can't discount that view even as the market finds it hard to believe, and that's why things are so choppy today."

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 24.00 points, or 0.22 percent, at 10,937.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.46 points, or 0.04 percent, at 1,131.88. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 2.72 points, or 0.11 percent, at 2,412.68.

The S&P 500 index lost more than 14 percent in the third quarter and fell more than 7 percent in September alone.

Yahoo Inc rose 4.2 percent to $13.74 after the founder and chief executive of Chinese e-commerce company, Alibaba, expressed interest in buying the company and said he has talked with other potential buyers.

Eastman Kodak Co surged 93 percent to $1.50 after losing half its value on Friday. The photography company has hired a law firm specializing in bankruptcy but said it had no intention of filing for bankruptcy.

Pharmaceutical Product Development Inc climbed 26 percent to $32.41 after it agreed to be acquired by Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman for $3.9 billion in cash.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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