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Banks Look Weak As Gold Strengthens

European banks are notably weak, and several large U.S. banks like Citi and Bank of America are down 10 percent pre-open.

Gold stocks are again trading up 2 to 5 percent.

Elsewhere:

Lowe's and JC Penney continue the trend among retailers, of providing guidance below the already-lowered estimates of analysts.

1) Lowe's earning were roughly in line with expectations, revenues were a tad light. Comp store sales were down 9.9 percent. Guidance for the first quarter of $0.23 to $0.27 is below Street expectations of $0.32. Full year is $1.04-$1.20, below Street estimate of $1.27, with sales estimated to be down 10 to 13 percent.

2) JC Penney reported earnings of $0.94 on continuing operations vs $0.92 consensus. First quarter guidance of a loss of $0.20 to $0.30 is higher than the Street estimate of a loss of $0.19; sales guidance was also poor.

3) This dollar is killing us: generic drug maker Mylan reported earnings above expectations, reaffirmed its 2009 and 2010 earnings, but the strong dollar hurt them. Specifically: sales were up 4 percent, but excluding the effect of the stronger dollar sales would have been up 10 percent.

4) Nibbling at the reflation trade: I noted yesterday that Barclay's upgraded a number of oil service names, under the theory that they are approaching bottoms. Today JP Morgan recommends going long materials and upgrades the sector to neutral from underweight.

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    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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