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Wednesday, 01 February 2012 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: -20.81 Level: 12632.91 NASDAQ PointChange: +1.90 Level: 2813.84 NQ100 PercentChange: +0.1 R2K PercentChange: +0.1 SP400 PercentChange: -0.1 SP500 PointChange: -0.61 Level: 1312.4 NASDAQ-Adv:1343 Dec: 1179 NYSE-Adv:1745 Dec: 1229

[BRIEFING.COM] Stocks failed to fully recover from an early slide that left the major equity averages to finish the session in mixed fashion.

Although there are still no official stories detailing Greece's efforts to restructure debt terms with creditors, presumed progress inspired buying in Europe this morning. The positive bias was also helped along by lingering enthusiasm related to a commitment yesterday by Europe's officials to join future bailout efforts. The euro initially traded higher in conjunction, but by session's end it had retreated to a loss of about 0.5% against the greenback.

Early action was largely guided by trade abroad as participants looked for reasons to buy following three consecutive losses for the S&P 500. However, stocks slid quickly off of their morning perch upon the release of the latest Chicago PMI. The reading fell to 60.2 in January from 62.5 in the prior month. That disappointed many market participants since the consensus forecast called for a reading of 62.8. Shortly thereafter sellers redoubled their efforts in response to a Consumer Confidence Index for January that fell to 61.1 from 64.8 in the prior month, clashing with expectations for an improvement to 67.0.

During its descent the S&P 500 paused at the neutral line, but later broke below that point to spend the next few hours slogging along in negative territory. Stocks eventually worked their way back to the flat line, but the broad market was unable to muster enough momentum to make an actual advance on the day.

Financials had been a source of strength, but the broad market had difficulty rallying around it. Investment banks and brokerages led the financial sector to a 0.4% gain. Diversified and regional bank stocks lagged, leaving the KBW Bank Index to finish flat.

Strength among financials was largely offset by weakness in the energy sector, which settled with a 0.9% loss. Exxon Mobil (XOM 83.74, -1.75) was a heavy drag as many investors responded negatively to the integrated oil giant's in-line earnings results.

Pfizer (PFE 21.40, -0.18) and Eli Lilly (LLY 39.74, +0.49) were among the more widely held names that were also in focus following their earnings announcements. Both bested what Wall Street had expected, but shares of the two pharmaceutical players traded in opposition. Biotech outfit Biogen Idec (BIIB 117.92, +1.34) benefited from a strong bid on the back of a better-than-expected earnings report of its own.

Share volume on the NYSE finally broke above 1.0 billion shares, suggesting a pickup in participation. Share volume has been paltry for the past couple of months, keeping average daily volume well below the 1.0 billion mark.

Mixed action among stocks was met by some with increased interest in Treasuries. The effort was enough to take the yield on the benchmark 10-year Note down to a new monthly low of 1.80%. Meanwhile, the yield on the 5-year Note fell to a new record low of slightly less than 0.72%.

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

Source: Briefing

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