Financials power stocks' late rally ahead of big earnings day

A late-day rally led by financials pushed stocks higher just before the closing bell, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped back to close down 26 points, or 0.3 percent, at 8,058. The broader S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both finished slighly higher for the day.

Energy stocks were among the day's losers, as oil prices dipped below $50 as the International Energy Agency cut its outlook on demand amid the slumping economy. Exxon Mobil (XOM) was one of the Dow's biggest decliners, falling 2.6 percent.

Among the stocks worth watching today:

American Express (AXP) rose on a positive article from Barron's noting the stock could still double from current prices. Shares were up almost 9% at $20.45 before the close.

General Motors (GM) looks like the "corporation" part of its name is about to become a ".org" or a "federal trust." Many reports put GM having a very close deadline to settle with creditors before Uncle Sam takes it through bankruptcy. Shares were off 16% at $1.71 before the close.

Chevron (CVX) fell with the price of oil this morning, but the oil giant also said that earnings would be significantly lower than in the fourth quarter with lower refining margins. Shares were down almost 2% at $67.95 at the close.

American International Group (AIG) rose with many financial stocks on reports that it is closing down the beleaguered financial products units by year-end. Shares were up 21% at $1.41 right before the close.

Intuit (INTU) fell after getting a bum endorsement just two days before the tax filing deadline; UBS downgraded this one to "Neutral" from Buy ahead of the date. Shares fell 3% to $25.81 before the close.

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