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MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Set To End Strong Year With Minor Loss

By Donna Kardos Yesalavich, MarketWatch U.S. stocks fell slightly Friday morning, in the final session of a strong year in which the market climbed to two-year highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) slipped 9 points, or 0.1%, to 11560. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) led the measure's decline with a 0.4% drop. The Dow came into Friday's session with an 11% gain for the year, its second-straight annual gain, with almost half of the 2010 gain having come this month. The measure's 6.9% jump this month represents its best December since 2003. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) shed 0.1% to 2661. It has jumped 17% this year. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (SPX) declined 0.1% to 1256. The S&P 500 is up nearly 13% for the year, with a 6.6% climb this month marking its best December performance in 19 years. The measure also achieved its best fourth-quarter performance since 2003. No key data are on tap for Friday, which will be a full session for the U.S. stock market although volume is expected to be particularly light due to the holiday. The bond market closes early. In overseas markets, China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.8% but ended the year with a 14.3% loss. The Japanese market was closed. Read more on best and worst Asian markets. In Europe, the FTSE 100 shed 1.2% in a shortened session. German markets were shut for the year, finishing up 16%. Germany was one of the best-performing stock markets in the region in a year marred by sovereign-debt crisis. The dollar fell, with the U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) -- tracking the U.S. currency against a basket of six others -- off 0.6%. Treasurys were mixed, with lower demand for the two-year note (UST2YR) lifting its yield to 0.65% while gains in the 10-year note(UST10Y) pushed its yield down to 3.36%. Crude-oil futures fell while gold futures advanced. Among stocks in focus, Imax Corp. (IMAX) jumped 19% after U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail said Sony Corp. (SNE) is considering a $40-a-share bid for big-screen movie company, with Walt Disney Co. (DIS) interested as well. Imax Chief Executive Richard Gelfond and Chairman Bradley Wechsler are thought to be pushing for a sale to Sony, according to the report. U.S. shares of Sony shed 0.2% while Disney declined 0.4%. CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS) edged up 0.4% after the drugstore chain agreed to acquire Universal American's Medicare Part D prescription drug business for $1.25 billion, a deal that will more than double the size of CVS's share in that program. Universal American's (UAM) stock surged 37%, as the company said shareholders would receive about $12.80 to $13 per share in cash after the payment of other transaction-related expenses. Borders Group (BGP) tumbled 16% after media reports quoted the company saying it could delay payments to some publishers, as part of an effort to refinance debt. The book retailer also said there were no guarantees those efforts would be successful.

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