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) - Stocks finished on a mixed note on Wednesday, with weakness in financials dragging the Dow lower.

The Dow lost 16 points, or 0.1%, to close at 11,008. The

S&P 500

gained slightly to settle at 1178, while the

Nasdaq Composite

crept up 6 points, or 0.2%, to finish at 2476.

Financial stocks slumped after the

Federal Reserve

said banks will have to show the Fed detailed stress tests and capital plans before they move ahead with dividend restoration.

Meantime, consumer cyclicals traded higher on the back of strong earnings from retail stocks.

Home Depot



Bank of America

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Hewlett Packard


were the worst performers within the Dow, while









posted the biggest gains among the blue chips.

Stocks had been mildly higher earlier in the session, as concerns on the European debt crisis eased slightly.

"We're seeing a little bit of a bounce after yesterday's pullback even though the economic news wasn't good," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners earlier on Wednesday. "The inflation news continues to play into the hands of the Fed, which just means that in the immediate short term, they'll continue to pump money into the economy."

"Today we see the dollar slightly lower and metals trading higher so it appears that some of the fears that have shaken investor confidence -- while they're not going away and won't be going away anytime soon -- I think they're becoming less of a factor. The bottom line is interest rates will remain low and we're getting a little bit of a rebound."

European stocks closed higher as the FTSE in London added 0.2% and the DAX in Frankfurt rose 0.6%. The U.K., while part of the European Union but not part of the eurozone, offered its

support to Ireland as EU officials put together a bailout plan designed to stabilize Irish banks and keep weakness from spreading to other ailing eurozone economies.

Ireland, however, has refrained from asking for help because it believes it will be able to support itself through budget cuts and tax hikes. The country also doesn't want to cede control of its finances to the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

"It would calm the market and stabilize the euro if Ireland accepted a bailout plan but in the long run, it would be better if Ireland can do it on their own," said Cardillo of Avalon Partners.


consumer prices rose 0.2% in October coming in slightly below the 0.3% uptick that economists had been expecting and increasing slightly from September's growth of 0.1%. The core rate, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, was unchanged after remaining flat in September. Economists had been anticipating growth of 0.1%, according to

Subdued inflation is one of the

Federal Reserve's

main concerns as it tries to prevent prices from falling and stem unemployment. Consumer prices have increased 1.2% during the past year, less than the Fed's target inflation rate, affirming the Fed's decision to buy Treasurys to prevent deflation. The price of gold, which some investors use as a hedge against inflation, was slipping with the December gold contract down by $3.80 to $1,334.60 an ounce.

Housing starts fell 11.7% to 519,000 in October from September's level of 588,000. The market had been projecting a dip to 600,000 from September's initially reported level of 610,000. Building permits, meanwhile, inched 0.5% higher to 550,000 from 547,000 previously. According to, permits were expected to rise to 570,000 from September's initially reported level of 539,000.


Mortgage Bankers Association said the number of mortgage loan applications fell 14.4% in the week ended Nov. 12. Refinancing activity dropped to the lowest level since July, down 16.5%. MBA economist Michael Fratantoni attributed the declines to increased interest rates.

Retail was the session's strongest sector buoyed by better-than-expected earnings from




BJ's Wholesale Club






Target's stock rose 3.8% to $55.62, BJ's gained 3% to $47.54 and Chico's stock jumped 10.5% to $11.13.

Jet engine component maker



jumped 55% to $45.42 on news that it's being acquired by

Allegheny Technologies


in a deal worth $778 million. ATI's stock closed 3% lower at $48.41.

Regions Financial


dived 6% to $5.54 , extending losses from Tuesday after it said three risk management executives were leaving the company.

Solar stocks were under pressure after Credit Suisse downgraded the sector from overweight to market weight.

GT Solar


tanked 15.3% to $7.10,

Jinko Solar


plunged 12.3% to $25.61 and

SunTech Power


plummeted 9.8% to $7.53.

Bob Evans Farms


shares jumped 9.6% to $32.57 after the restaurant operator increased its full-year earnings forecast.

Shares of



gained 2.6% to $39.57 after a key panel approved a lupus treatment it is developing with

Human Genome Sciences


, bringing it closer to approval from the

Food and Drug Administration

. Human Genome's stock fell 5.3% to $24.51.

General Motors


priced its massive initial public offering at $33 per share

, the top of its already heightened range.



stock, meanwhile, rose 1% to close at $16.68.



fell 6.5% to $49.25, reversing gains from positive analyst views earlier this morning, after its earnings report was leaked ahead of the opening bell. The company reported earnings of 52 cents per share beating estimates of 49 cents.

The Energy Information Administration said crude oil inventories shrank 7.3 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 12, compared to the 1.2-million-barrel increase analysts polled by Platts had expected. The American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday that oil supplies shed 7.65 million barrels last week. Crude oil for January delivery was down by $2.09 to trade at $80.75 a barrel.

The dollar traded lower against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.1%, and the benchmark 10-year Treasury note weakened 10/32, strengthening the yield to 2.877%.


--Written by Melinda Peer and Shanthi Venkataraman in New York


Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.