First they were down, then they were up, then they were down -- and then the closing bell rang.

Surging oil prices boosted energy stocks and pushed transportation companies' shares lower, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 each slipped 1.1 percent to 7,271 and 765, respectively, and Nasdaq fell 1.14 percent to 1,425. Airlines stocks suffered, with Airtran (AAI) and US Airways Group (LCC) each falling more than 9 percent.

Banks were mixed as details about the government's "stress tests" emerged and a plan for injecting more capital into troubled financial institutions through a conversion of preferred capital to common equity was released. Citigroup (C) fell 3.1 percent to $2.52, but Bank of America (BAC) gained 9.1 percent to $5.16 and Wells Fargo (WFC) rose to $13.44.

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