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After dropping more than 50 points in early trading today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) , fought its way back a bit and wound up closing down just 0.10%. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) was also essentially flat, gaining 0.03% on the day, while the Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC ) managed to book a larger gain of 0.31%.
The debt crisis in Europe continues to weigh down markets, as new fears of a European recession helped drive down the Dow after the opening bell. Germany's economy, the largest in Europe, probably contracted about 0.25% in the last three months of 2011. Spain, the country with Europe's highest unemployment rate, saw its industrial output drop 7% year over year in November. Finally, the European Union revised its figure for third-quarter eurozone growth to 0.1%, down from the previous 0.2% estimate.
Winners and losers
But despite European worries and today's flat markets, there were some companies that managed to show some solid gains. Bank of America ended the day up 3.62% and has now gained more than 23% in 2012 alone. Outside the Dow, building-products manufacturer USG (NYSE: USG ) rose more than 10% on the day after a positive earnings announcement from homebuilder Lennar. Homebuilders are obviously big customers for USG, so any hint of a possible rebound in the housing sector is certainly good news for the company.
Walt Disney was the biggest loser of the Dow, down 3.2%, while SUPERVALU (NYSE: SVU ) tanked much more, finishing down more than 12.5% on the day. The discount grocer came in below expectations on both quarterly earnings results and full-year guidance. The company's loss widened to $750 million in its fiscal third quarter after a loss of $202 million in 2010's third quarter. SUPERVALU now expects its same-store sales, a key retail metric, to decline 2.5 to 3% for the year.
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