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Tuesday, 20 December 2011 | 00:05
DJ30 PointChange: -100.13 Level: 11766.26 NASDAQ PointChange: -32.19 Level: 2523.14 NQ100 PercentChange: -1.0 R2K PercentChange: -1.9 SP400 PercentChange: -1.7 SP500 PointChange: -14.31 Level: 1205.35 NASDAQ-Adv:569 Dec: 2026 NYSE-Adv:644 Dec: 2386 BRIEFING.COM] Modest broad market gains in the early going were undermined by a weak financial sector, which tumbled more than 2% to drag the rest of the stock market to a new December low.

News flow was lacking this morning, leaving market participants with few trading cues, let alone actual catalysts. In turn, stocks took their direction from Europe's bourses, which were initially bid higher. However, support for Europe's bourses waned into their close. Soured sentiment there exacerbated selling in an already weak financial sector, which continues to wrestle with concerns about the exposure of banks and financial services firms to the precarious financial and economic conditions of Europe. News that European Finance Ministers have agreed to provide 150 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund did nothing to assuage concerns.

Financials likely suffered from some forced selling after shares of Bank of America (BAC 4.99, -0.21) broke below $5 per share to set its lowest level in more than two years. As a group, financials fell 2.3%, which is worse than what any other sector had suffered. The highly influential sector now sits at its lowest level since the end of November. Such weakness weighed heavily on broader market trade, causing the major equity averages to close at new December lows.

The dollar did little during the day, but ultimately ended the session about 0.3% for the better. Interest in the currency picked up into the close.

Treasuries continued their climb, albeit modestly. The bid came despite results from an auction of 2-year Notes that suggested demand had weakened since a series of auctions for longer-term Notes last week. The auction today drew a bid-to-cover of 3.45, dollar demand of $120.8 billion, and an indirect bidder rate of 21.6%.

Participation today was unimpressive, resulting in very little share volume. That's likely owed to the absence of trading catalysts and traders, who are beginning to leave their desks for the holiday season.

Advancing Sectors: (None)
Declining Sectors: Health Care -0.3%, Consumer Staples -0.4%, Telecom -0.7%, Utilities -0.8%, Tech -1.1%, Industrials -1.1%, Consumer Discretionary -1.2%, Energy -1.7%, Materials -1.9%, Financials -2.3%

Source: Briefing

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