Doubts that the Treasury's stability plan, under which the government would swap out the bad debt of financial firms, sent stocks lower, at least in early trading. But a report by day's end that the Obama administration is working on a plan to subsidize homeowner mortgage payments sent stocks back toward their opening levels.
Retail sales showed a strong bounce in January but are still contracting badly on a year-on-year rate. Jobless claims were decidedly weak indicating steady and severe rates of contraction in the labor market.
Money moved into safety with the dollar gaining about 1/2 cent to $1.2856 against the euro. Treasury yields slipped slightly with the exception of the 30-year bond where the yield rose 7 basis points to 3.52 percent. Demand was soft for a giant $14 billion auction of new bonds.
The March WTI contract fell another $2 to just under $34, but the April contract is much stronger ending at nearly $42. This giant gap, not seen in the Brent contract, reflects the lack of available storage space at the key delivery point of Cushing, Oklahoma. Gold ended slightly higher just over $950 and on its way, many say, to $1,000.