NEW YORK – Stocks halted their steady climb Friday after renewed concerns about Greece’s ability to pay its debts left investors questioning a global economic recovery.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 37 points after advancing for eight straight days. Broader indexes also fell. Major indexes posted gains for the week.
Greece said it might need to turn to the International Monetary Fund for support if European leaders can’t agree on a bailout plan next week. Worries about the country’s ability to handle its massive debt load have set off periodic bouts of stock selling in the U.S. and overseas over the past two months.
Investors also were cautious after India’s central bank raised interest rates to combat rising prices. That prompted concern that central banks in other countries would follow suit. Reports in the U.S. during the week signaled that inflation is minimal.
The news out of Greece and India chilled an advance in U.S. stocks that grew out of rising optimism about a recovery.
“The economic data so far continues to be friendly, but there are a lot of concerns out there,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at the brokerage Avalon Partners Inc. in New York. “The Greek situation is affecting the dollar.”
The dollar, regaining its appeal as a safe investment, rose against the euro and other currencies. Concerns remain that debt problems could spill over to other weak European countries like Spain and Portugal, Cardillo said.
Stocks in the U.S. have been rising since a January-February slump. Investors are encouraged that the economy is getting better, even if it’s at a slow pace. The modest improvements have translated into a stock market that creeps higher rather than leaps as it did last year. Still, even with incremental gains some analysts warn that the market needs some pullbacks to avoid getting overheated.