Uncertainty surrounding Greece will continue to tug at markets Thursday, as traders await the pricing of the big Facebook IPO .
Huge demand for the offering encouraged Facebook to sell even more shares, and now its giant IPO could bring in a record $18.4 billion, more than the $17.9 billion record offering of Visa shares.
If Facebook prices at the top of its range, its valuation would be $104 billion.
“It will be Facebook that will be the big story and everything else will pale in comparison,” said Daniel Greenhaus, global market strategist at BTIG. "But at the end of the day it’s going to be a moment in time when people focus on it—and presumably move on to other items.”
Stock-market strategists do not expect the Facebook deal to have much general market impact, but it will be critical to the IPO market that Facebook stock rises after the offering, and holds gains.
“There’s no denying it’s a rich valuation. From a broader perspective, its brought a lot of people into the market in terms of awareness and it will certainly contribute to some interesting volatility during the course of the day on Friday, but I can’t really say whether it becomes a driver of market activity yet,” Greenhaus said.
Besides Facebook, which should price after the close, there are earnings expected from Wal-Mart , Dollar Tree , Gamestop , Precision Castparts and Ross Stores .
Autodesk , Applied Materials and Salesforce.com report earnings after the close.
There are several important pieces of economic data, including weekly jobless claims at 8:30am ET, and the Philadelphia Fed survey and leading indicators, both at 10am.
The G-8 leaders also begin to gather Thursday night ahead of Friday and Saturday meetings at Camp David.
Greece is expected to be a big topic of discussion. “If the G-8 simply puts out a defacto statement like it always does, it’s going to be a disappointment to the market. At some point, it requires a multilateral approach to solve this problem,” said Boris Schlossberg of GFT Forex.
Greece heads to a new election June 17, after politicians failed to put together a ruling coalition, following the May 6 election. Fears that Greece would leave the euro zone, wreaking havoc in the financial system, has been weighing on markets.
Markets were boosted Thursday after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would benefit the euro zone if Greece would stay a member. Several times she used the word “solidarity” in an exclusive interview with CNBC’s Silvia Wadhwa.
“I think the politicians know what they have to do and they just don’t want to do it. They have to give Greece more money if they want to keep the union alive. Put up or shut up. They literally have to renegotiate the debt terms on one hand and provide grants on the other,” said Schlossberg.
Headlines about Greek banks hit the euro and stocks in late-morning trading, as a story eventually filtered out that the Greek banks were relying on emergency lending funneled through the Bank of Greece, rather than the conventional monetary policy operations of the European Central Bank. Once the banks restructure, they can use the conventional operations.
The Dow Wednesday fell 25 to 12,606 and the S&P 500 was down 5 at 1325. The 10-year Treasury was yielding 1.765 percent, its lowest closing yield since September.
Gold continued to break down, sliding into bear market territory when it fell below $1,538.96, 20 percent below its all-time intraday high of $1,923.70 per ounce, reached in September. It finished the day at $1536.20 per ounce.
Oil ended at $92.51 per barrel, its lowest close since Nov. 2
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