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Thursday, 20 October 2011 | 21:00

DJ30 PointChange: +37.16 Level: 11541.78 NASDAQ PointChange: -5.42 Level: 2598.62 NQ100 PercentChange: -0.5 R2K PercentChange: +0.3 SP400 PercentChange: +0.4 SP500 PointChange: +5.51 Level: 1215.39 NASDAQ-Adv:1193 Dec: 1288 NYSE-Adv:1806 Dec: 1174

[BRIEFING.COM] Movements in the stock market today were closely correlated with comments about debt talks in the eurozone, even if headlines suggested that officials there are doing little more that paying lip service to the topic.

The major equity averages spent the first part of the session chopping along listlessly before participants were prompted to send stocks lower. Their efforts came in response to reports about the possibility that an EU Summit this coming weekend could be postponed. Any delay would only underscore the lack of progress in eurozone debt talks.

However, word that leaders of France and Germany will meet in coming days began to bring buyers back into the fold. That headline came right about the time that the S&P 500 was able to find technical support just below the psychologically-significant 1200 line.

Financials emerged as leaders, but the broad market was initially slow to follow the sector's lead. Financials finished near their session high with a 1.8% gain. Regional lender Fifth Third (FITB 11.63, +0.97) was especially strong on the back of a better-than-expected quarterly report. In contrast, American Express (AXP 46.19, +0.06) only found higher ground in the final minutes, despite an upside earnings surprise of its own.

eBay (EBAY 32.15, -1.03) matched the consensus earnings estimate, but its shares still traded sharply lower, making the stock one of the worst performers in the Nasdaq, which lagged its counterparts for the second straight session. Tech was the real source of weakness for the Nasdaq, though. The sector logged a 0.5% loss for the session, adding to the 2% decline that it suffered yesterday.

There was deluge of data today, including initial jobless claims for the week ended October 15. Claims totaled 403,000, which is spot on with what had been expected, among economists polled by The latest tally is also little changed from the upwardly revised count of 409,000 claims recorded for the prior week.

The latest Philadelphia Fed Survey improved to 8.7 for October from the -17.5 that was posted in September. The October reading had been expected to remain negative, but improve to merely -8.8.

Existing home sales set an annualized rate in September of 4.91 million units, which is only slightly less than the pace of 4.92 million units that had been generally anticipated among economists surveyed by The pace recorded for September marked a slowdown from the rate of 5.06 million units posted for the prior month.

Leading Indicators increased by 0.2%, which narrowly missed the 0.3% increase that had been broadly expected.

Advancing Sectors: Financials +1.8%, Materials +1.0%, Energy +0.7%, Utilities +0.6%, Industrials +0.6%, Consumer Staples +0.5%, Consumer Discretionary +0.4%, Health Care +0.1%
Declining Sectors: Telecom -0.1%, Tech -0.5%

Source: Briefing

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