Stocks falter over European concerns

NEW YORK -- Stocks faltered in the last hour of trading Monday after investors gave in to anxiety about Europe's economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average erased an early gain of 118 points to end down 20.

Stocks began the day higher following a report that industrial production in the 16 countries that use the euro grew more than expected in April. That boosted confidence that Europe could solve its debt problems and pushed the euro above $1.22 for the first time since June 4.

Investors have been concerned that government spending cuts aimed at slashing debt would hurt Europe and slow a global recovery. However, there have been few signs so far that the steep budget cuts needed to contain rising debt have slowed economies around the world.

Traders at first shrugged off news that credit rating agency Moody's lowered its rating on Greece's debt to "junk" status. But in the final hour, many traders apparently decided the safest move was to take money out of the market.

BP shares continue to drop after oil spill

Shares of BP fell in New York trading Monday as the company's board meets to decide whether to suspend its hefty dividend because of political pressure over the massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast.

BP lost $3, or 8.9 percent, to $30.94 in afternoon trading.

The White House said Monday that BP appears willing to set up a victims compensation fund, as President Barack Obama has demanded. Spokesman Bill Burton said the White House and BP are "working out the particulars," such as the amount of the fund and how it will be administered.

Any BP board decision on the company's dividend or other measures is not expected to be announced immediately. BP executives are due to meet Obama in Washington on Wednesday.

The company has lost about $90 billion in value since the spill in the Gulf nearly two months ago.

On Monday, BP said its costs for responding to the spill had risen to $1.6 billion.

Moody's downgrades Greece's debt to junk

ATHENS, Greece -- Moody's Investors Service slashed Greece's credit rating to junk status Monday in a new blow to the debt-ridden country that is under intense international scrutiny after narrowly avoiding default last month.

A Moody's statement said it was cutting Greece's government bond ratings by four notches to Ba1 from A3, with a stable outlook for the next 12 to 18 months. It was the second of the three major agencies to accord Greek bonds junk status. Standard & Poor's did the same in late April.

6-week slide in gas prices may be ending

It looks like the nearly six-week run in lower gasoline prices is just about over.

Gasoline prices have dropped about 8 percent since hitting $2.93 per gallon May 6 on the back of lower oil prices. Pump prices fell 0.3 cent to a national average of $2.698 a gallon Monday, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.

Gasoline prices have dropped 2.6 cents in the past week and are 17.9 cents below where they were a month ago. Prices are 3.5 cents higher than a year ago.