The close: Stocks retreat from five-year highs

January 7, 2013

Stocks retreated on Monday, with little news to digest other than the upcoming start of the fourth-quarter earnings season.

The S&P 500 closed at 1461.49, down 4.98 points or 0.3 per cent – one trading day after the benchmark index rose to its highest level in about five years. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,384.29, down 50.92 points or 0.4 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,499.55, down 41.26 points or 0.3 per cent.

The setbacks follow what had been a good week for stocks, as investors cheered a resolution in Washington to the budget impasse, averting the so-called "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that would have pushed the U.S. economy into recession.

There are more negotiations ahead, though, pertaining to extending the U.S. debt ceiling and agreeing on budget cuts.

More immediately, investors will see the start of the quarterly reporting season this week, when Alcoa Inc. kicks things off on Tuesday, after markets close.

Key commodities ended the day relatively unchanged. Crude oil rose to $93.19 (U.S.) a barrel, up 10 cents. Gold fell to $1,646.30 an ounce, down $2.60.

Among Canadian commodity producers, Suncor Energy Inc. fell 1 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. fell 1.7 per cent.

Bank of America Corp. fell 0.2 per cent, in line with its peers, after it agreed to an $11.6-billion deal to settle a dispute with Fannie Mae over bad mortgages – a dispute that emerged from Bank of America's takeover of Countrywide Financial Corp. Inc. rose 3.6 per cent, touching a new record high, after Morgan Stanley upgraded its recommendation on the stock to "overweight."

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