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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dow Backpedal on FOMC Minutes, Greek Bailout Delay

The DJIA fell nearly 100 points
Nasdaq backed away from a multi-year peak
Following yesterday's flat finish, U.S. stocks were pointed higher ahead of the bell, thanks to signs of progress on the Greek bailout deal. Also, traders responded favorably to China's pledge to support the cash-strapped euro zone. However, reports that Eurogroup officials may postpone additional aid for Greece until after that country's April elections amplified concerns of a potential default. Back home, a few well-received economic reports -- including a stronger-than-predicted rise in the NAHB housing market index, and a positive reading on New York factory activity -- provided little respite from the increasingly downbeat mood on Wall Street. Plus, the final hours of trading were clouded by the release of the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) January meeting. The transcript showed that very few members support a third round of quantitative easing, dashing some traders' stimulus hopes. Against this backdrop, the major market indexes closed decidedly lower.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,780.95) fell as low as 12,753.62, but pared its decline to settle 97.33 points, or 0.76%, lower. Among the Dow's 30 components, Bank of America (BAC) led the 25 losing equities with a loss of 2.5%, pressured by a downgrade to "market perform" at Bernstein. Meanwhile, Travelers (TRV) paced the five winners with a gain of 0.2%.

Worst Day Of 2012 
Wednesday's selloff {-97.33 points) was the steepest for the Dow since it lost 140 points, or 1.14%, on December 28. The blue chips had closed higher in five of the prior six sessions and appeared to be within striking distance of the 13000 level. 

The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,343.23) surrendered 7.27 points, or 0.54%, after touching an intraday nadir of 1,340.80. Similarly, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,915.83) gave back 16 points, or 0.55%, after the tech-heavy benchmark reached a new multi-year high of 2,958.19, earlier in the session.  


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