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Friday, 23 December 2011 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: +61.91 Level: 12169.65 NASDAQ PointChange: +21.48 Level: 2599.45 SP500 PointChange: +10.28 Level: 1254 NASDAQ-Adv:1672 Dec: 846 NYSE-Adv:2294 Dec: 769 BRIEFING.COM] Equities finished just off their best levels of the session as traders took their cues from Europe and bought stocks as a lack of headlines from was seen as a positive. The Nasdaq was the top performer all session long, ending with a gain of 0.8%.

NYSE Euronext (NYX 26.33, +0.36) ended up 1.4% after the U.S. Justice Department approved the company's merger with Deutsche Boerse as long as certain conditions are met. The approval requires the sale the International Securities Exchange's minority stake in Direct Edge Holdings. The company will have two years to complete the sale.

Financials were the best performing sector within the S&P 500 Index, climbing 2.1%. Bank of America (BAC 5.48, +0.25) continued to see gains following yesterday's Department of Justice ruling that required the company to pay a record $335 million in compensation to Countrywide borrowers who were charged more for home loans based on their race and national origin.

Shares of Micron Technology (MU 6.41, +0.87) rallied 15.7% after the company released a disappointing earnings report. The company announced a loss of $0.19 per share, $0.09 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate while indicating revenues rose 20.9% year/year to $2.09 billion. The revenues number fell short of the consensus estimate of $2.12 billion. The company said gross margins held at 15% for the first quarter with improvements in NAND Flash margins being offset by declines in DRAM.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY 57.58, -3.85) saw heavy selling pressure following the release of the company's mixed earnings report. Earnings per share for the third quarter came in at $0.95 which was $0.06 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. However, revenues rose 6.8% year/year to $2.34 billion and fell short of the $2.36 billion consensus. The company did issue upside guidance for fiscal year 2012, saying it now sees earnings per share of $3.86-3.92 which is above the $3.83 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

Treasuries finished with small gains as buying dropped the 10-yr yield two basis points to 1.953%. A small loss for the dollar index pushed it down to 79.95 while the euro ticked up to 1.3050.

Data today was mixed as third quarter GDP expanded at a clip of just 1.8%, which is down from the 2.0% growth rate that was posted in the second estimate. Initial weekly jobless claims for the week ended December 17 totaled 364,000 which was less than the 380,000 initial claims that had been generally expected among economists polled by The final December reading on Consumer Sentiment from the University of Michigan came in at 69.9 after a reading of 67.7 in the preliminary post earlier this month. Leading indicators increased by 0.5%, which exceeded the 0.3% increase that had been broadly anticipated. Also out was the October FHFA Housing Price index which printed -0.2%.

Source: Briefing

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