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Dow Ends Week Flat Despite Dubai Selloff

Friday, 27 Nov 2009 | 4:52 PM ET

After all that, we're right back where we started.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 154.48, or 1.5 percent, Friday, but ended the week at 10,309.92, less than 10 points below where it started the week as gains logged before Thanksgiving offset today's losses.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each lost 1.7 percent today but also ended the week little changed.

The New York Stock Exchange closed at 1pm ET Friday.

TheCBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended the week at 24.76, after finishing Wednesday's session near 20.

Stocks declined across the board but financial and commodity-related sectors were the hardest hit, after Dubai, a surreal Mideast boomtown which boasts an indoor ski slope and three palm-shaped islands, said it would ask creditors for a 6-month standstill on about $60 billion of debt, which it is seeking to restructure.

Stocks fell sharply in Europe and Asia Thursday, when the news hit, and the U.S. market reopened on Friday, a selloff ensued.

It remains unclear how much exposure U.S. banks have to Dubai — and analyst Dick Bove said it wasn't much — but Bank of America and Citigroup were the heaviest-traded stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.

All 30 Dow stocks finished lower — which has happened only 8 other times this year — led by Bank of America, Caterpillarand Alcoa.

The dollar rallied against most major currencies as investors looked for a safe haven. But it was no match for the yen, which hit a 14-year high against the dollar.

Gold fell more than $12, settling at $1,174.20 an ounce, after hitting a high earlier this week above $1,190. Oil dropped about $2, settling at $76.05 a barrel.

Several analysts said the market had gotten ahead of itself and investors, predictably, used the Dubai news as an excuse to sell and lock in gains for the year — the S&P is up 20 percent so far this year.

Investors also used today's selloff as an opportunity to further their rotation into safer bets like consumer staples and away from their recovery bets in technology and elsewhere. Microsoft and HP finished near the bottom of the Dow pack.

The Dubai fallout is a correction, not the beginning of a new crisis, Pimco's Mohammed El-Erian said on CNBC this morning, adding that the market's reaction shows financial markets haven't calmed down after last year's collapse.

"Now I think investors are going to look much closer to fundamentals," he said.

This is just a blip for the market, Arjuna Mahendran, head of investment strategy Asia at HSBC Private Bank, said on CNBC Asia.

CNBC.com Market Outlook
CNBC.com's Cindy Perman highlight's the week's top business news stories, tells viewers what stocks the pros are recommending and looks ahead to next week's headlines

Can the market overcome the Dubai effect? Click on the video at left.

"I characterize it as a case of indigestion...it's like having a very rich meal — you just get indigestion if you can't really process it that fast, and they rolled out a lot of capacity expansion," Mahendran said.

"I would wager that if risk assets see short-term corrections in prices, it's a good buying opportunity... because the broader picture is one of steady recovery across the world," Mahendran concluded.

Still, most investors were expected to wait until the dust settlesbefore jumping back into the market.

European markets rebounded Friday, with major indexes up about 0.8 percent in late trading, after falling more than 3 percent Thursday on the news.

There are no major U.S. economic or earnings reports due out today.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

While financial markets were roiled by the Dubai news, shoppers here in the U.S. crawled out of bed in the dark to take advantage of some blockbuster Black Friday deals and start their holiday shopping.

The early reports are that the season is off to a good start: Lines are longer and carts are fuller.

Most retailers expect to beat last year's sales numbers, which were weak, but don't expect to even come close to 2007 sales, which occurred before the financial crisis hit.

Discount retailers like Wal-Mart Stores and Target are expected to see the heaviest traffic over the holiday weekend, followed by department store chains like Macy's and Kohl's .

Volume was light, as expected during this holiday-shortened session: Just 654 million shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange today, less than half last year's daily average. Decliners outpaced advancers, roughly 6 to 1.

Next week, the economic calendar is packed: The Senate kicks off its debate on heath care on Monday. We’ll get an early read on how the holiday-shopping season is going, with comments from the National Retail Federation on Sunday and November sales results from chain stores on Thursday.

Plus, auto sales, pending-home sales, ISM reports on manufacturing and services — and for the big finale, the November jobs report on Friday. Economists expect to see that just 140,000 jobs were lost from nonfarm payrolls last month.

If we get some solid readings on the economy next week, some market pros say it could help the market get over the Dubai effect and actually push higher.

Six out of ten key S&P sector indexes finished the week higher, with telecoms in the lead, up 3 percent, and financials at the bottom of the pack, down over 2 percent.

Monday is the last trading day of November. So far, the Dow is up 6.2 percent for the month.

On Tap for Next Week:

MONDAY: Senate begins health-care debate; Dallas, Chicago Fed manufacturing outlooks
TUESDAY: Auto sales; pending-home sales; ISM manufacturing; construction spending; Fed's Plosser speaks; Obama speaks; Earnings from Staples
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; weekly crude inventories; Challenger, ADP jobs reports; Fed's Lacker speaks; Fed's beige book; Earnings from Aeropostale
THURSDAY: Chain-store sales; weekly jobless claims; ECB, UK rate meetings; Bernanke renomination hearing; ISM services index; Earnings from Toll Brothers, Marvell Tech and Novell
FRIDAY: November jobs report; Fed's Plosser, Bullard speak; factory orders; Earnings from Big Lots

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.

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