U.S. stocks opened higher on Monday, supported by a rebound in financial shares, after the government said it would start "stress tests" on banks this week, but kept nationalizations at bay for now. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 49 points to 7,413, led by a 15% jump in shares of both Bank of America and Citigroup. The government is in talks with Citigroup and may converting its preferred shares into common equity, The Wall Street Journal reported. The U.S. government may hold between 25% and 40% of Citi, according to the report. The S&P 500 index rose 5 points to 774 while the Nasdaq Composite rose a point to 1,443. Most of the financials are higher. BB&T is up 6% on an upgrade. Outside the financials, things are quiet. The commodities are higher. ExxonMobil and Conoco are both up 2% on upgrades. The Nasdaq moved into the red shortly after the open. Google is lower after having their estimates cut. Palm is up 4% on an upgrade. The healthcare sector is weak on concerns of more government regulations. Humana is down 16% even though they reaffirmed numbers. Unitedhealth Group is down 10%. After the first half an hour, the Dow remained higher by 43 points. The Nasdaq was in the red by 6 points. After the first hour, all the major averages sunk into the red. The Dow dropped 50 points. The Nasdaq declined 23 points. Citigroup and Bank of America are still in the green, but that's about it. The unthinkable is now once again thinkable. Through the morning and into the afternoon, the averages pushed lower. Citigroup and Bank of America are modestly in the green. The big techs are getting hit. Humana is down 25%. The commodities are selling off as well. Not good. In the middle of the afternoon, the averages rebounded as the government reiterated a policy of private banking. Then we sold back off on comments that AIG will report the worse quarter and the biggest loss in U.S. history. Who was running this company? In the last hour, the averages sold off to new lows. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 250 points, or 3.4%, at 7,114, marking its lowest close since May of 1997. The broad S&P 500 index ended down 26 points, or 3.5%, at 743, its lowest close since December or 1996. The Nasdaq Composite fell 53 points, or 3.7%, to 1,387.
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