* Stocks wipe out gains after initial optimism over Cyprus
* Dell says Blackstone, Icahn offers may be superior
* Dow off 0.6 pct, S&P 500 off 0.5 pct, Nasdaq off 0.5 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Monday
but pulled off their session lows by late afternoon after the
president of the Eurogroup tried to clarify his comments on the
Wiping out earlier gains that drove the S&P 500 index to
less than a point away from its record close, stocks fell after
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup of euro-zone
finance ministers, told Reuters and the Financial Times that
when failing banks need rescuing, euro-zone officials would turn
to the bank's shareholders, bondholders and uninsured depositors
to contribute to their recapitalization. He also said that
Cyprus was a template for handling the region's other
But stocks came off their lows after Dijsselbloem clarified
his previous comments and said, "Cyprus is a specific case with
exceptional challenges, which required the bail-in measures we
have agreed upon yesterday. Macro-economic adjustment programmes
are tailor-made to the situation of the country concerned and no
models or templates are used."
Banking shares were among the day's top decliners. Shares of
Morgan Stanley fell 0.8 percent to $22 while Bank of
America dropped 1.4 percent to $12.38.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 90.88
points, or 0.63 percent, at 14,421.15. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 8.43 points, or 0.54 percent, at
1,548.48. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 15.06
points, or 0.46 percent, at 3,229.93.
At its session high, the Dow climbed as high as 14,563.75, a
record intraday high, while the S&P 500 came within a fraction
of a point of its record closing high of 1,565.15 set in October
"There was certainly a sigh of relief that a deal was
reached, but there are still growing concerns that more work
needs to be done," said Jack Ablin, the chief investment officer
of BMO Private Bank in Chicago.
The CBOE Volatility Index, known as the VIX, Wall
Street' favorite barometer of investor anxiety, was up 4.8
percent at 14.22, off its intraday high of 14.61.
In company news, Dell Inc said it received
alternative proposals from Blackstone and billionaire
investor Carl Icahn that could be superior to the $24.4 billion
offer from founder Michael Dell and private equity fund Silver
Lake Partners last month. Dell shares rose 2.9 percent to
Merger and acquisition activity has been among the reasons
for stocks' stellar performance so far this year.
Shares of University of Phoenix owner Apollo Group
rose 6.9 percent to $18.22 after the company reported a
better-than-expected profit even as student sign-ups fell for
the fourth straight quarter. The stock was the S&P 500's biggest
Best Buy Co Inc shares rose 1.5 percent to $23.12
after the company said that founder Richard Schulze would rejoin
the consumer electronics retailer as chairman emeritus and add
two of his former colleagues to the board. The news helped
dispel rumors that the largest investor in the world's largest
consumer electronics chain was contemplating selling his stake
in the company.