) -- The Santa Claus rally took a bit of a breather, but don't put Wall Street on the naughty list just yet.

In the past, on average, stocks have tended to rise in each session of the period stretching from the five trading days before the New Year's Day holiday through the two after, as

mentioned yesterday

, rising more than 75% of the time overall since 1969 with the average cumulative return a smart 1.6%.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

only lost a few points though, so there's really nothing to get too excited about. The blue-chip index was probably due for a bit of a breather after rising more than 500 points in the previous four sessions. It's now up 6.2% for 2011, far outpacing the

S&P 500

, which is basically flat on a price basis, and the

Nasdaq Composite

, which is down about 1%.

The secret to the Dow's success in 2011? Big Macs, Big Blue, and big pharma were a


part of it, offsetting a sharp decline for the nation's biggest bank.

Through Tuesday's close,


(MCD) - Get Report

was the Dow's best performer, rising 31%, followed by


(IBM) - Get Report

, gaining 26%;


(PFE) - Get Report

, up 24.3%;

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

, advancing 20.4%; and

Kraft Foods


, tacking on 19.6%.

The worst performers among the blue chips this year, according to data compiled by

Dow Jones Indexes

, are

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

, down 58.9%;


(AA) - Get Report

, off 42.9%;


(HPQ) - Get Report

, losing 39%; and

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

, sinking 22.1%; and

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

, coughing up 8.2%.

Who says big-caps can't be volatile too?

As for Wednesday, the scheduled news is once again very, very light. A goodly amount of digital ink will be split over news that eurozone banks are making plenty of use of the European Central Bank's largesse as the latest reports says a

record 452 billion euros

took residence in the ECB's overnight deposite facility.

Dennis Gartman, for one, isn't worried as he believes it's only natural the banks would take advantage of the deal the ECB has offered them with last week's long-term refinancing operation. He pokes fun at the idea that this somehow suddenly reveals problems in Europe, saying essentially that that horse has been out of the barn for a while now.

"We suspect instead that the banks acted properly and as any entity or even individuals would act if given a huge new line of credit that if used properly would insure material 'carry' profits over time: the banks drew down what they could, fearful that the doors that had been opened might close all to quickly and they wished to make certain they'd take all that was available to them," he said in written commentary early Wednesday.

"Over time they will deploy these funds put at the disposal, but in the interim and until such time as they buy the sovereign debts they wish to buy or make loans they wish to make they are 'parking' those funds given to them by the ECB with the ECB. We'd do precisely the same thing; so too would you; so too would anyone," Gartman continued.

Meantime, the markets should get an early boost from news that

Italy pulled off a successful auction of six-month bills, selling 9 billion euros worth at a yield of 3.25%

, according to media reports.

Wednesday's session should be an interesting one for

Sears Holdings


again as well. The stock closed near the lows of the session on Tuesday following its plethora of bad news, including store closures, weak holiday same-store sales, and a bevy of big fat charges to boot.

The signs don't seem to be pointing to any kind of dead-cat bounce for the struggling retailer, but it's only a matter of time until some ambitious analyst makes the case.


Written by Michael Baron in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here:

Michael Baron


>To submit a news tip, send an email to:

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