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MARKETS SNAPSHOT FOR 29/12/11

Friday, 30 December 2011 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: +135.63 Level: 12287.04 NASDAQ PointChange: +23.76 Level: 2613.74 NQ100 PercentChange: +0.8 R2K PercentChange: +1.3 SP400 PercentChange: +1.4 SP500 PointChange: +13.38 Level: 1263.02 NASDAQ-Adv:1888 Dec: 724 NYSE-Adv:2381 Dec: 637 BRIEFING.COM] Although the effort encountered resistance, the stock market was able to build on an early gain and overcome resistance to put itself back in positive territory for the year.

Early market participants provided a modest bid in the face of muddled action abroad and a new 11-month low for the euro following a mixed debt auction in Italy. The euro eventually worked its way higher and, in turn, bolstered broad market buying interest; the currency climbed out of the red to end the trading day with a 0.4% gain against the greenback. The euro is still down more than 3% this year, though.

Financials helped boost the broad market by providing leadership. The sector fully recovered from their prior session slump by bouncing to a 1.6% gain. Banks proved to be a primary driver of that move. However, bank stocks remain the reason for the sector's poor performance this year -- the KBW Bank Index is down 23% this year while the broader financial sector is off by 18% year to date.

Defensive-oriented stocks have generally outperformed in 2011. Year to date, utilities stocks are up more than 15%, consumer staples stocks are collectively up 11%, and the health care sector is up more than 10%.

All 10 major sectors scored strong gains today, though. Despite such broad-based strength, the S&P 500 had a hard time moving more than a couple of points above the 1258 zone, which contains its 2011 starting point and its 200-day moving average. Still, stocks never retreated and ultimately prevailed in overcoming resistance. The lack of share volume likely helped the move -- with only a half billion shares traded on the NYSE share volume was only about half of its average daily volume. Nonetheless, the S&P 500 is now fractionally positive for the year.

Economic data had little sway with the broad market, but shares of homebuilders were helped by a surprisingly strong pending home sales report. Pending home sales for November increased by 7.3%, which is greater than the 0.6% increase that had been generally expected among economists polled by Briefing.com, but less than the 10.4% increase recorded in the prior month.

The Chicago PMI for December also exceeded expectations. Although it eased down to 62.5 from 62.6 in the prior month, it was better than the reading of 60.1 that had been generally expected.

Weekly initial jobless claims jumped to 381,000 from the multi-month low of 366,000 posted for the previous week. Economists polled by Briefing.com had expected, on average that initial claims would be closer to 368,000.

The commodities complex failed to benefit from the positive tone displayed in the stock market and the dollar's decline from a multi-month high. That left the CRB Index to suffer a 0.2% loss. That said, several commodities were able to recover from new or near multi-month lows. The CRB is positioned for a year-to-date loss of about 8.5%.

Advancing Sectors: Financials +1.6%, Industrials +1.3%, Energy +1.2%, Materials +1.1%, Consumer Discretionary +1.1%, Health Care +1.0%, Tech +0.9%, Telecom +0.9%, Utilities +0.8%, Consumer Staples +0.7%
Declining Sectors: (None)

Source: Briefing

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