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Friday, 27 January 2012 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: -22.33 Level: 12734.63 NASDAQ PointChange: -13.03 Level: 2805.28 NQ100 PercentChange: -0.5 R2K PercentChange: -0.3 SP400 PercentChange: -0.7 SP500 PointChange: -7.60 Level: 1318.45 NASDAQ-Adv:1137 Dec: 1376 NYSE-Adv:1473 Dec: 1533 [BRIEFING.COM] An early advance by stocks put the broad market at its best level since summer, but without any real source of leadership stocks were unable to resist the efforts of sellers. The move to take profits resulted in a gradual descent that left the major averages to settle with varied losses.

Stocks were able to build on the prior sesson's advance because of an early bid that was mostly brought about by big gains among Europe's bourses, which bounded in response to rumors regarding Greece's progress in its debt dealings.

Earnings announcements generated some stock-specific buying ahead of the open, but overall the lot wasn't very exciting. Blue chips 3M (MMM 87.58, +1.10) and Caterpillar (CAT 111.31, +2.26) bested expectations for the bottom line, but AT&T (T 29.45, -0.76) came short of the consensus estmate. Among other widely held names, Netflix (NFLX 116.01, +20.97) posted an upside earnings surprise, but both Noble (NE 34.81, +0.02) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY 32.48, -0.22) disappointed. Colgate-Palmolive (CL 91.35, +1.91) announced in-line earnings.

Economic data was relatively mixed in that total durable goods orders and orders less autos for December increased more than had been expected, weekly initial jobless claims made an in-line increase to 377,000, new home sales eased down unexpectedly to an annualized rate of 307,000 units for December, and leading indicators for December made a smaller-than-expected increase of 0.4%.

The broad market was up with a modest gain for only a short while before it began to falter. Its slip invited a gradualy selling effort that took stocks to session lows in the final hour. The Dow actually did a decent job of fighting off selling pressure through the first half of the day, but ultimately the blue chip average joined its counterparts in negative territory.

A retreat by the euro coincided with the stock market's downward drift. It had been up markedly in morning trade, but was flat against the greenback by session's end.

Utilities represented the only sector that managed to settle in positive territory. Their 0.3% gain came without any real catalyst, but could reflect some early rotation efforts by traders. After it climbed about 15% in 2011, the defensive-oriented sector is currently down about 2% year to date.

Treasuries traded higher amid the stock market's weakness. They showed little response to results from an auction of 7-year Notes that drew a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.73, dollar demand of $79.2 billion, and an indirect bidder participation rate of 31.8%. For comparison, an average of the past six auctions gives a bid-to-cover of 2.81, dollar demand of $81.6 billion, and an indirect bidder rate of 41.5%.

Advancing Sectors: Utilities +0.3%
Declining Sectors: Consumer Discretionary -0.1%, Materials -0.2%, Industrials -0.2%, Consumer Staples -0.4%, Health Care -0.4%, Tech -0.6%, Financials -0.9%, Energy -1.3%, Telecom -1.9%

Source: Briefing

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