May 7, 2012 at 9:43 AM ET
NEW YORK — U.S. stocks opened lower on Monday as election results in France and Greece stirred up new uncertainties about how the region would tackle its ongoing debt crisis.
Moments after the opening bell, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 41.44 points, or 0.32 percent, to 12,996.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 4.40 points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,364.70. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 14.13 points, or 0.48 percent, to 2,942.21.
Greeks voted out ruling parties in elections on Sunday, dealing a blow to the fragile political consensus that had kept Europe's currency bloc intact through more than two years of crisis. The country's banking index slid 14 percent.
"The knee-jerk reaction was a little strong, but there's chaos in Greece, and being against the deal that was already agreed upon is almost like progress being set back a year and a half," said Scott Freeze, president of StreetOne Financial in Huntington Valleym, Penn.
"The big concern is that this sets us up for substantial financial losses."
Worries over the debt crisis have helped to drive weakness in U.S. equities in recent months, with investors concerned about its effects on global growth and corporate profits.
Bearish U.S. economic data, most notably the payrolls report, have exacerbated fears growth may be stalling.
In France, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande won the presidency over incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, raising pressure on Germany to pursue a more growth-oriented approach to the regional crisis.
The U.S. earnings season is winding down, and of the 415 S&P 500 companies reporting as of Friday morning, 67.5 percent exceeded estimates, according to Thomson Reuters data. In contrast, more than 80 percent beat expectations at the start of the season.
With last week's decline, the S&P 500's 3.5 percent pop from an April closing low to a May closing high has largely been erased. The index has found support around the April closing low of 1,358.59 in the past, but a breach there could take it back to 1,340. The benchmark index is moving away from strong resistance at 1,400 after failing to make a convincing move above it.
Reuters contributed to this report.