Jan. 23, 2012 at 12:37 PM ET
By msnbc.com staff and news services
Stocks abruptly ended an early rally Monday, turning lower to start afternoon trading.
Just past 12:30 p.m. on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was off 0.30 percent, the S&P 500 was 0.26 percent lower and the Nasdaq had fallen 0.39.
Shares had staged a tepid rally at the opening with the S&P reaching its intraday high less than 90 minutes after the bell. It peaked at 0.16 percent.
Germany and France pressed for a rapid deal between Greece and its private creditors and said they remained committed to a new bailout that is needed by March to avert a default. Euro zone finance ministers were due to decide later Monday on what debt restructuring terms they would accept.
The euro hit its highest level in nearly three weeks against the dollar on optimism a deal would be reached.
U.S. stocks are up nearly 5 percent this year after four days of gains, with investors particularly emboldened by a turnaround in U.S. banking stocks that have helped lead the rally after an abysmal 2011.
A solid showing in fourth-quarter earnings during the current reporting season has also put a floor in the market.
David Lutz, a trader at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets in Baltimore, pointed out that some technical analysts are calling for a pullback after the market's strong run.
"Some of the market action to me is showing the possibility of a 'Blowoff Top' this week before we head south of 1,300 again (on the S&P 500)," he said in an email.
Reuters contributed to this report.