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Standard & Poor's 500 in the red for 2011 . . . again

Ominous nyse spencer platt getty
The Standard & Poor's 500 index is once again in the red for 2011.

A rough day on the markets Wednesday brought the benchmark index into negative territory for the year, just a few days after it passed into the black for the first time in weeks.

The index ended Wednesday down 15.79 points, or 1.3%, to 1,249.64. That is 0.6% below where it began 2011.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day 139.94 points, or 1.1%, to 12,151.41. It is still up 5% for the year.

Investors were rattled by news that European banks had borrowed large sums from the European Central Bank without lending most of it out, pointing to the risks still present in the continent's economy.

The European economy will be tested Thursday when Italy sells a batch of 10-year bonds. The ease with which it does so will point to the confidence investors have in one of the continent's most troubled economies.

It was the first down day for the major U.S. indexes after five consecutive trading days of increases. The dip makes it ever more likely that the S&P 500's performance for 2011 will be determined on the final trading day of the year. 

RELATED:

The stock-market winners and losers of 2011

Small investors still counting on stocks for retirement

Assets of major public pension funds slid 8.5% in third quarter 

-- Nathaniel Popper

twitter.com/nathanielpopper

Photo: The New York Stock Exchange. Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

 
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