BRIEFCASE

Disney’s theme parks helped offset weaker areas of the company in the most recent quarter.

NEW YORK — Stocks closed lower after political instability in Greece sent U.S. and European markets reeling.

European indexes closed near multi-month lows Tuesday as Greek politicians appeared unable to form a coalition government. A key political leader said Greece is no longer bound by its earlier promises to cut spending in exchange for international bailouts.

U.S. markets opened lower and fell for most of the morning. The Dow Jones Industrial average closed down 76.44, or 0.6 percent, at 12,932.09. The S&P 500 fell 5.86, or 0.4 percent, to 1,363.72. The Nasdaq composite index fell 11.49, or 0.4 percent, to 2,946.27.

NEW YORK — The government says gasoline will be cheaper this summer than previously expected thanks to a drop in the price of oil.

The Energy Department says drivers should pay an average of $3.79 per gallon from April through September. That’s down 16 cents from last month’s outlook and a not very dramatic increase from last summer’s average of $3.71 per gallon.

This month’s forecast is a reversal from previous warnings of a sharp rise in gas prices. The government had said last month that gasoline prices in May could jump above a monthly average of $4.01 per gallon.

WASHINGTON — U.S. companies in March posted the highest number of job openings in nearly four years, a sign that hiring could strengthen in coming months after slowing this spring.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that employers advertised 3.74 million job openings in March. That’s up from a revised 3.57 million in February and the most since July 2008, just before the financial crisis erupted.

The increase in U.S. job openings suggests that weaker hiring gains in March and April could be temporary. It usually takes one to three months for employers to fill openings.

DETROIT — Rising car and truck sales have prompted Ford Motor Co. to add a week of production at 13 North American factories so the company can make another 40,000 vehicles this year.

Ford said Tuesday it would cut in half the normal two-week summer shutdown at six assembly plants and seven engine and parts plants.

Auto plants normally close for two weeks around the July 4 holiday as they switch over to make vehicles for the next model year.

Through April, U.S. auto sales ran at an annual rate of more than 14 million, substantially higher than last year’s 12.8 million. Ford sales were up 5 percent.

LOS ANGELES — The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday that net income in the first three months of the year grew 21 percent as better performance from pay TV network ESPN and its theme parks offset a loss at the mo- vie studio driven by the flop “John Carter.”

Net income rose to $1.14 billion.

Wire reports