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MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Drop As Financials Lead Retreat

By Donna Kardos Yesalavich By Kristina Peterson and Donna Kardos Yesalavich NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks fell Monday as bank shares were hurt by worries about a broad insider-trading probe and energy shares took a hit from falling oil prices. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) dropped 73 points, or 0.7%, to 11131, in early afternoon trading, creeping back into positive territory for the month. The Dow is up about 0.1% for November. All but four of the Dow's 30 components were down, led by Bank of America (BAC) , off 3.1%, and J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) , down 2.6%. Oil giants Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CV) also were weak, but pared some of their losses as oil climbed back above $81 a barrel. Exxon was recently off 1.3%, while Chevron fell 1.1%. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) was the measure's top performer, rising 1% ahead of the company's quarterly earnings report, due after the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index shed 0.6% to 1193. Financials were its worst-performing sector as Ireland's agreement to accept a bailout caused some U.S. investors to worry over the frailty of banks' recovery at home. "It's a reminder to us, seeing what's going on with the European banks, that our banks are also insolvent," said Michael Pento, senior economist at Euro Pacific Capital. The Irish government Sunday said it had formally applied for tens of billions of euros in aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Adding to the Irish turmoil, the country's ruling Fianna Fail party's grip on power became even more tenuous Monday after its junior coalition partner said it would pull out of the government in the new year. Stoking fresh worries for the financial sector, the Wall Street Journal reported that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided the offices of three hedge funds, Diamondback Capital Management LLC, Level Global Investors LP and Loch Capital Management LLC, amid a far-reaching insider-trading investigation. Investors said they were bracing for financials to take a hit as more details of the investigation surface. "It is the brokerage and the investment bankers that are going to be the most likely targets of these investigations," said Robert Phipps, a director at Per Stirling Capital Management. Leading the sector's declines, Goldman Sachs (GS) dropped 4.3%, while Marshall & Ilsley (MI@) fell 3.5% and Regions Financial (RF) shed 3.3%. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) edged up 0.1% to 2520. The index was boosted by a 6.6% jump in Novell. An investor group reached a deal to acquire Novell (NOVL) for about $2.2 billion, ending an eight-month takeover battle for the software company. The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY), which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of six others, rose 0.3%. Demand for Treasurys increased, pushing yield on the 10-year note down to 2.81%. Gold futures rose. Shares of Tyson Foods (TSN) rose 4.6% after the meat packer rebounded from a prior-year loss, posting earnings that topped analysts' estimates. Coffee company Green Mountain (GMCR) surged 20% after saying it plans to restate its financial statements for the past three fiscal years and the first three quarters of this year because of errors, bringing it closer to resolving its accounting issues after the Securities and Exchange Commission announced a probe of the company in September. Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded its stock-investment rating on Green Mountain to buy from underperform.

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