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Thursday, 12 January 2012 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: -13.02 Level: 12449.45 NASDAQ PointChange: +8.26 Level: 2710.76 SP500 PointChange: +0.40 Level: 1292.48 NASDAQ-Adv:1495 Dec: 1016 NYSE-Adv:1668 Dec: 1359 [BRIEFING.COM] Another day of lackluster trade left the major equity averages to finish mixed. The lack of news flow over the past two days has many participants looking forward to a flurry of announcements tomorrow.

Losses by Europe's bourses and a weaker euro, which trailed the dollar by about 0.4% all session, hampered stocks for most of the session. Trade was also made lackluster by the absence of data and meaningful corporate announcements.

A gradual climb by financials provided a lift later in the session, helping the broad market settle at the flat line. Financials finished with a 1.0% gain, outperforming the broad market for the third straight session. Materials stocks also collectively climbed 1.0% in an extension of their prior session run.

Many solar plays soared as analysts considered the possibility of stronger demand from Germany. The group's strength helped give the Nasdaq a modest lead over its counterparts.

Energy stocks lagged all session. The sector's 1.3% loss came amid softer energy prices -- oil prices closed with a 1.2% loss at $100.96 per barrel, but natural gas prices suffered a 5.8% drop to close at $2.77 per MMBtu.

Treasuries attracted modest support. Strong demand at an auction of 10-year Notes helped. The offering drew a bid-to-cover ratio of 3.29, dollar demand of $69.1 billion, and an indirect bidder rate of 38.3%. For comparison, an average of the past six auctions results in a bid-to-cover of 3.08, dollar demand of $66.2 billion, and an indirect bidder rate of 44.0%.

The only economic release today was the Fed's Beige Book, but that is merely a collection of anecdotal information. It generally indicated that national economic activity expanded at a modest to moderate pace from late November through December.

As a consequence of the dearth of news flow participation remained limited. That made for a paltry trading volume total of less than 800 million shares on the NYSE.

Although earnings season doesn't get going in earnest until next week, market participants are looking forward to the latest European Central Bank announcement, weekly initial jobless claims, monthly retail sales, monthly business inventory numbers, and the latest Treasury Budget, all of which are due tomorrow and represent potential trading catalysts.

Advancing Sectors: Financials +1.0%, Materials +1.0%, Telecom +0.7%, Industrials, +0.3%, Tech +0.2%, Consumer Discretionary +0.1%
Unchanged: Health Care
Declining Sectors: Utilities -0.4%, Consumer Staples -0.6%, Energy -1.3%

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