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U.S. stocks kicked off trading for the last quarter of 2011 on a downbeat note Monday as news that Greece won't meet its fiscal deficit targets prompted investors to take a cautious stance. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 28 points to 10,884, with 19 of its 30 components lower. The Nasdaq Composite shed 5 points to 2,409, while the S&P 500 Index gave up 2 points to 1,128. Hopefully the fourth quarter will be better than the third quarter. We'll know in a matter of weeks once the earning reports commence. In the meantime, it's still preannouncement season. Arch Coal is down a percent at a new 52 week low after lowering guidance last Friday night. Alcoa reports next week. This morning the stock is lower on a downgrade. Freeport McMoran is modestly higher on an upgrade. The financials opened unchanged this morning. SunLife is down 2% even though it received an upgrade. Morgan Stanley opened lower on cautious analyst comments, however rebounded once Cramer pounded the table on the stock. The techs are holding up as well. Amazon is up 2% on an upgrade. Yahoo is jumping 4% on rumors Alibaba is interested in buying the firm. Analog Devices is jumping 2% on an upgrade. Qualcomm is modestly higher on positive analyst comments. Intel is lower even though one analyst made cautious comments. At 10 o'clock better than expected manufacturing and car sales numbers lifted the averages into the green, but the rally was short-lived. After the first hour the averages were back in the red. Through the morning the averages remained in the red battled to get back to the unchanged level. A select number of techs and financials are trading in the green. Bond yields keep pushing lower as the Fed's operation Twist has started. The 30 year Treasury bond yield is down to 2.8%. Crazy, but that should make equities more attractive. During the lunch hour the selling accelerated led by the financials. Bank of America is down 4% to a new 52 week low. Morgan Stanley is also down 4%. No buyers out there. The dog of the day is airline firm, AMR down 40% on rumors of a bankruptcy. Through the afternoon the averages drifted lower breaking some support levels. Plenty of financials are making new 52 week lows. Things go from bad to worse. In the last hour the selling accelerated into the close. Not good for tomorrow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 258 points, or 2.4%, at 10,655, its lowest close since Sept. 2010. The S&P 500 lost 32 points, or 2.9%, to 1,099, also the lowest close since Sept. 2010. Intraday, it broke through its Aug. 9 closing low, a bearish sign for some technical strategists. The financial sector fell more than 4%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 79 points, or 3.3%, to 2,335, its lowest close since Sept. 2010.
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