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Around the markets: holding back the bear, a final day of window (un)dressing and a $2.1-million lunch with Mr. B

June 30, 2008 | 10:21 am

Some notes from around the markets early today:

-- Bear still at bay: As on Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average once again crossed the bear-market boundary this morning -- and once again quickly rallied back above it. The Dow fell as low as 11,287, which put it down 20.3% from its record closing high of 14,164.53 on Oct. 9. The market then turned higher. At about 10 a.m. PDT the Dow was up 65 points, or 0.6%, to 11,411.08, trimming the decline from the October high to 19.4%.

A drop of 20% or more is Wall Street’s classic threshold for designating a bear market -- although, let's face it, to most investors the pain of a 20% decline is indistinguishable from the pain of a 19.5% decline.

-- Window dressing -- or undressing? As the end of any quarter approaches, the worst-performing stocks often get hammered even harder. The reason: Some portfolio managers want to jettison their dogs so clients don’t see them on their quarter-end statement and ask, "Why do we own that loser?"

The usual term for these end-of-quarter moves is "window dressing." But Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist for Cantor Fitzgerald, says "window undressing" is a more fitting description of the selling that in recent days has hammered shares of financial companies, automakers and other already beaten-down issues.

It’s still going on today: The financial-stock index within the Standard & Poor’s 500 was down as much as 2% early in the day -- on top of the 17.2% drop it suffered from March 31 through Friday. General Motors this morning fell to $10.57, its lowest since 1954 and down from $11.55 on Friday.

-- Check, please: The winner of last week’s annual auction of a charity lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett was ID’d over the weekend: He is Zhao Danyang, who manages the Pureheart China Growth Investment Fund in Hong Kong, Bloomberg reports. The auction, conducted on EBay, was won by Zhao with a bid of $2,110,100, according to Denise Lamott, a spokeswoman for the Glide Foundation in San Francisco. Glide will get the proceeds from the auction.

From Bloomberg: "Buffett will entertain Zhao and seven companions at a New York steakhouse and answer virtually any question except what he is buying and selling."