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[BRIEFING.COM] Broad-based selling took the stock market roughly 2% lower for its worst performance in two weeks. Only on a few occasions did sellers let up, leaving stocks to settle at or near session lows.
Ripe for profit taking after a 6% weekly climb, stocks endured a steady descent today. The push lower began ahead of the open as early participants watched Europe's major bourses falter. Despite all the recent talk about comprehensive eurozone stability plans and deadlines, nothing of substance has been unveiled. Concern that fiscal and financial problems there could continue caused the region's major bourses to log losses well in excess of 1%. Meanwhile, the euro dropped 1.1% to $1.373.
Europe continues to take precedence over corporate headlines. Even a better-than-expected quarterly report from Citigroup (C 27.93, -0.47) couldn't keep the financial services giant from succumbing to broad market weakness. The stock settled near its session low after it had been up markedly in morning trade. Wells Fargo (WFC 24.42, -2.25) suffered its worst single-session percentage loss in two months, or its second worst in two years, after the lender's earnings came short of the consensus estimate. Concerted selling took financials down 3.3%, which is worse than what any other sector suffered, but marquee investment bank and brokerage outfit Goldman Sachs (GS 96.90, +0.17) managed to remain near the neutral line ahead of its report tomorrow morning.
Shares of Halliburton (HAL 34.48, -2.95) surged this past Friday, but the stock gave it all up as analysts shrugged off an upside earnings surprise to scrutinize the line items on the company's latest quarterly report. Several other oil and gas services stocks traded lower in sympathy.
Broad market weakness couldn't completely detract from the enthusiastic response made for a $38 billion merger between Kinder Morgan (KMI 28.19, +1.30) and El Paso (EP 24.45, +4.86). Shares of EP were able to set a new multi-year high.
Tech stocks failed to offer the same leadership that they have in recent sessions. Imbued by broad market weakness, the sector slid to a 1.8% loss. Heavyweight IBM (IBM 186.59, -3.94) was hit hard ahead of its quarterly report. The stock just set a new record high this past Friday.
Utilities were today's strongest performers. The defensive-oriented sector limited its loss to only 0.3%. Many electric utilities, most of which operate regulated businesses, were even able to produce positive returns today.
Although participants were decidedly pessimistic in their approach today, sending the Volatility Index more than 18% higher as of the close, there wasn't a great deal of share volume behind the effort. In fact, share volume on the NYSE failed to break 1 billion.
Advancing Sectors: (None)
Declining Sectors: Financials -3.3%, Materials -3.1%, Industrials -2.7%, Consumer Discretionary -1.9%, Tech -1.8%, Energy -1.7%, Health Care -1.7%, Consumer Staples -0.9%, Telecom -0.7%, Utilities -0.3%