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Thursday, 08 December 2011 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: +46.24 Level: 12196.37 NASDAQ PointChange: -0.35 Level: 2649.21 NQ100 PercentChange: +0.0 R2K PercentChange: -0.1 SP400 PercentChange: -0.2 SP500 PointChange: +2.54 Level: 1261.01 NASDAQ-Adv:1167 Dec: 1327 NYSE-Adv:1584 Dec: 1407 [BRIEFING.COM] Efforts to overcome early losses looked like they would end with stocks at the flat line for the second straight session, but a late squeeze gave the broad market a modest gain as participants spent the final minutes positioning themselves for the European Central Bank's monetary policy statement and the outcome of a summit of eurozone officials later this week.

Sellers sent the major averages down to marked losses in the opening minutes, but the tone of trade strengthened when financials began to offer leadership following word that results from recent EBA stress tests will be released tomorrow. Financials were down about 1% at their session low, worked their way up to the flat line, and then squeezed higher into the close for a 1.2% gain. Financials were among the poorest performers in early trade, but boasted the biggest gains by the finish.

Health care stocks make up the day's the second best performing sector, but their 0.6% advance is only half of what the financial sector scored. Pharmaceutical play Pfizer (PFE 20.47, +0.24) provided leadership to the sector for the second straight session. The stock, along with a few other blue chips, also helped keep the Dow out in front of its counterparts for the second day in a row.

The market's path to a gain was interrupted for a time by reports that analysts at S&P may be questioning the European Union's top-notch credit rating. The potential for a downgrade comes amid persistently precarious conditions in the region, so the threat of a negative revision wasn't regarded as anything new, but it did remind traders of the headline risk associated with Europe.

Although stocks stretched higher during the last leg of trade, their position was pared in the final few minutes. That left the major averages to settle shy of session highs.

Advancing Sectors: Financials +1.2%, Health Care +0.6%, Consumer Discretionary +0.5%, Telecom +0.2%, Tech +0.1%, Consumer Staples +0.1%, Materials +0.1%
Declining Sectors: Industrials -0.2%, Utilities -0.3%, Energy -0.3%

Source: Briefing

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