On Monday, stocks started off the week with another gain, albeit a modest one, as Alcoa kicked off the earnings season. On Tuesday, the Dow rose to its highest level since July, before the S&P US debt downgrade and debt ceiling fiasco of late summer, as Alcoa’s report of a diminished aluminum supply sparked buying. The major indexes were mixed on Wednesday, as the market failed to gain traction in light of reports indicating that Europe’s economy is slowing. On Thursday, stocks managed a small gain despite disappointing initial jobless claims, December retail sales, and business inventories reports. Threats by the S&P to downgrade several Eurozone countries sovereign debt led to a moderate sell-off on Friday.

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