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Stocks Dip Slightly as the Start of Earnings Season Nears

In possible further changes for the bank, CNBC also reported that Citigroup and Morgan Stanley (MS) are in talks about merging their brokerage businesses.

President-elect Barack Obama last week pledged accountability and transparency in a pitch for his administration's $800 billion economic stimulus plan, dubbed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. The president elect has also promised to better monitor the second $350 billion of the troubled asset relief fund (TARP) -- bailout money for the financial institutions - should lawmakers release it.

President Bush said Monday in his last press conference of his term that he has talked to Obama about the TARP money and would be willing to ask for it if the president elect needed it ready.

"He hasn't asked me to make the request yet, and I don't intend to make it unless he specifically asks me to make it," said President Bush.

Meanwhile, Mideast tensions, signs that OPEC supply restrictions are being implemented and the Gazprom-Ukraine gas dispute were outweighed by concerns that the economic downturn would continue to weigh on demand. Oil prices fell 17% last week, and started the new week on a downward course, declining $2.59 at $38.24 a barrel.

Gold was down $25.30 to $829.70 an ounce. Longer-dated Treasuries were recently falling; the 10-year note was declining 9/32 to yield 2.4%, and the 30-year was down 25/32, yielding 3.1%.

The dollar was stronger against the euro and pound, and weaker against the yen.

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