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Saturday, 19 November 2011 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: +25.43 Level: 11793.73 NASDAQ PointChange: -15.49 Level: 2570.96 NQ100 PercentChange: -0.8 R2K PercentChange: +0.1 SP400 PercentChange: -0.1 SP500 PointChange: -0.48 Level: 1214.68 NASDAQ-Adv:1243 Dec: 1263 NYSE-Adv:1693 Dec: 1287

[BRIEFING.COM] Stocks slogged along for almost the entire session. They ultimately finished flat. The lack of action made for an unexciting finish to the stock market's worst week in more than a month.

Premarket posture was positive. Participants responded to the stabilization of yields on the debt of such trouble spots as Spain and Italy, renewed strength in the euro, and a climb by Europe's bourses from their session lows. Buying in Europe eventually lost momentum, leaving the region's major averages to settle with varied losses.

An absence of follow through buying in Europe undermined this morning's improved tone. In turn, stocks slipped at the open of U.S. trade and never really established a direction of trade. Movement in the S&P 500 was partly limited because of resistance near 1225 and support at the weekly low just beneath 1210.

Consistent with trade earlier this week, stocks lacked a legitimate form of leadership. That said, financials managed to put together their best performance of the week by advancing 0.5% as a group. They still shed more than 5% for the week, though.

Tech stocks, which make up the largest sector by market weight, lagged once again. With a 0.7% slide the sector logged its third straight loss. Tech stocks collectively fell about 4% this week.

The expiration of monthly options likely added to the market's chop. Option-related trade helped inflate share volume on the NYSE in the absence of market-moving corporate news and economic data. Share volume on the Big Board still didn't break 1 billion, though.

Action on Friday made for a rather boring follow-up to the sharp losses suffered in the prior two sessions. Those back-to-back declines combined for a drop of more than 3%, which made up the bulk of the near 4% weekly slide suffered by stocks.

Stocks fell in excess of 2% on Thursday as a technical breakdown brought about a barrage of selling that sent the stock market to its lowest level in nearly a month. Participants became less interested in a generally pleasing batch of data that featured the least weekly initial jobless claims tally since April (388,000) and better-than-expected housing starts and building permits for October. Housing starts hit an annualized rate of 628,000, while building permits set an annualized pace of 653,000. However, the Philadelphia Fed Survey for November slipped more than expected to 3.6 from 8.7 in the prior month.

The stock market's slide on Wednesday came amid a confluence of events, including a retreat by the euro and a reminder from analysts at Fitch that domestic banks could be hurt if the fiscal and financial problems of Europe worsen. Analysts at Moody's added to the specter of contagion by downgrading credit ratings of 10 banks in Germany, which is Europe's strongest, most diversified economy. A lack of leadership also left stocks with little chance of fighting off the efforts of sellers. Trade was hardly influenced by stronger-than-expected 0.7% increase in monthly industrial production. Data for the day also featured a 0.1% decline in the October Consumer Price Index (CPI) and a 0.1% increase in core CPI, as had been generally expected.

Producer price data also proved cool when it was released on Tuesday. During October producer prices were down 0.3% and core prices were flat. Neither was too different than what had been widely expected. Overall retail sales for October proved strong with a 0.5% climb, but sales less autos were even more impressive with a 0.6% increase. Despite the generally pleasing nature of the data, action among stocks was more closely correlated with the euro, given its nature as a barometer of sentiment in Europe. Although the euro still suffered a loss that day, its move up from its session low helped lift stocks to their only gain of the week.

The euro opened the week with a slump, reflecting a weaker bias in Europe, even though Italy had approved new austerity measures and held another successful debt offering during the weekend. Given concerns about Europe's stability, many bank stocks were pressured for fear of their exposure to the continent.

With so much focus on Europe and the sensitivity to headlines out of the region, earnings matter little to overall market sentiment. Still, it is worth noting both Lowe's (LOW 23.50, +0.39) and Home Depot (HD 37.88, +0.26, +0.26) posted better-than-expected bottom lines. Dell (DELL 14.90, -0.02) also had an upside surprise, but that was overshadowed by its tepid forecast. Wal-Mart (WMT 57.23, +0.50) earnings actually came short of what Wall Street had expected.

Outside of earnings, IBM (IBM 185.24, -0.49) got some attention after it was learned that billionaire investor Warren Buffett has been acquiring shares in the company for the past month. Chevron (CVX 97.88, -2.20) and Transocean (RIG 47.47, -1.46) were cast in a negative light amid concerns about their role in a recent oil leak.

Source: Briefing

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