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Wednesday, 18 January 2012 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: +60.01 Level: 12482.07 NASDAQ PointChange: +17.41 Level: 2728.08 NQ100 PercentChange: +0.9 R2K PercentChange: +0.2 SP400 PercentChange: +0.3 SP500 PointChange: +4.58 Level: 1293.67 NASDAQ-Adv:1365 Dec: 1170 NYSE-Adv:1841 Dec: 1151

[BRIEFING.COM] Encouraging data helped stocks set multi-month highs in the early going, but a substantial portion of the market's gains were surrendered by session's end. Participants drove stocks higher in the opening minutes of trade.

Buying interest was fostered by news that China's fourth quarter GDP climbed 8.9% from the prior year. Even though that marked a deceleration from the 9.1% annual rate posted in the prior month, it proved better than what had been anticipated by many. Retail sales and industrial production for December also posted double-digit increases over the year. Early traders also had a positive response to an upbeat economic survey from Germany and a better-than-expected Empire Manufacturing Survey of 13.5 for January.

Although the early advance took the S&P 500 above the 1300 line for the first time since this past summer, the broad market measure was unable to sustain the move. It began to waver as stocks reacted to efforts by the dollar to make up ground against the euro, which had been up nearly 1% this morning, but saw that gain halved by session's end.

After easing off of early highs stocks spent the better part of the session drifting sideways. The action seemingly allowed morning gains to consolidate, but it didn't establish much of a floor since stocks faltered in the final 90 minutes. Still, the broad market managed to hold on for a modest gain.

Financials became a drag on trade. The sector, which was the only one to log a loss, ended the day down 0.8%. An earnings miss from Citigroup (C 28.22, -2.52) and in-line results from Wells Fargo (WFC 29.83, +0.22) made for uninspiring results ahead of announcements from a bevy of financial outfits tomorrow morning.

Advancing Sectors: Health Care +0.7%, Tech +0.7%, Energy +0.7%, Materials +0.6%, Consumer Discretionary +0.5%, Consumer Staples +0.4%, Telecom +0.4%
Unchanged: Utilities
Declining Sectors: Financials -0.8%

Source: Briefing

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