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MARKETS SNAPSHOT FOR 19/10/11

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 | 21:00

DJ30 PointChange: -72.43 Level: 11504.62 NASDAQ PointChange: -53.39 Level: 2604.04 NQ100 PercentChange: -2.0 R2K PercentChange: -2.1 SP400 PercentChange: -1.6 SP500 PointChange: -15.50 Level: 1209.88 NASDAQ-Adv:619 Dec: 1942 NYSE-Adv:837 Dec: 2190

[BRIEFING.COM] The major equity averages descended to varied losses after they had spent the first half of the session chopping along listlessly in mixed fashion.

Momentum from the prior session's broad-based bounce was lost this morning as reports regarding plans to boost bailout funds in the EFSF were contradicted. Headlines indicative of conflicting goings on at meetings between eurozone officials played a part in an afternoon sell-off that left stocks to end the session at lows.

Of the major averages, the Nasdaq suffered the worst loss today. Its outsized decline came as Apple (AAPL 398.62, -23.62) shares dove in response to an earnings miss, which has been a rare occurrence in recent years. Shares of AAPL booked their worst percentage loss in three years. Given the weight of AAPL shares in the Nasdaq, its weakness offset strength in shares of Intel (INTC 24.24, +0.84) and Yahoo! (YHOO 15.94, +0.47), both of which reported a better-than-expected bottom line for the latest quarter.

Materials stocks were actually the worst performers. Challenged to find support, the sector slumped to a 3.0% loss.

Morgan Stanley (MS 16.64, +0.01) posted an upside surprise for the latest quarter, but its shares ended the day only a penny above where they began. In contrast, Travelers (TRV 54.39, +2.93) came short of the consensus earnings estimate, but its shares still rallied to a two-month high. Following its 5% spike yesterday, the financial sector failed to sustain an early bounce that left them to trade flat before descending alongside the rest of the market in late trade. They finished with a collective loss of 1.7%.

Homebuilders failed to sustain buying interest that had the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB 15.18, -0.17) up nicely on the back of news that housing starts climbed in September to an annualized clip of 658,000, which is the fastest pace since April 2010. The consensus among economists polled by Briefing.com had called for a slower rate more on the order of 595,000. Meanwhile, building permits slid to a rate of 594,000 from 610,000 in the prior month. An annualized rate of 610,000 permits had been generally expected.

There weren't any surprises to consumer price data for September. Overall consumer prices increased by 0.3%, just as had been broadly expected, while core prices increased by 0.1%, which is even less than the consensus call for a 0.2% increase. Just yesterday it was learned that overall producer prices increased by 0.8% in September, while core producer prices increased by 0.2% for the month.

There were no surprises to the Fed's latest Beige Book, which indicated that economic activity in many districts expanded at a modest or slight pace during September. A weaker or less certain outlook for business conditions was also generally noted.

Just as stocks wrestled with sellers this afternoon, oil futures came under pronounced pressure. The energy component benefited from an unexpected draw in weekly inventories and even traded as high as $89.69 per barrel before it dropped to $86.11 per barrel for a 2.5% loss. Other commodities were also clipped, resulting in a 1.3% loss for the CRB Commodity Index.

Amid the afternoon selling, the Volatility Index, often euphemistically labeled the Fear Gauge, spiked. At the close it was up more than 9% to trade above 34.

Advancing Sectors: Utilities +0.1%
Declining Sectors: Health Care -0.3%, Consumer Staples -0.4%, Telecom -0.6%, Energy -0.9%, Industrials -1.2%, Consumer Discretionary -1.5%, Financials -1.7%, Materials -3.0%

Source: Briefing

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