The S&P 500 fell at the open and churned through the day on predictable Cliff rumors. The one that seemed to have the biggest impact came late in the day: To wit, President Obama is not making any new offers on resolving the December 31st cliff dive. The index accelerated its selloff in the final thirty minutes of trading to close with a loss of 1.10% for the day. That puts us at -1.94% for the week and -0.94% for the month so far.
We'll take a look at what the VIX did today (the biggest mover at the close). But first, here is an hourly chart of the month of December, with one day to go.
Actually the failed Santa Rally was a portion of a larger rally that began after on November 16th following the post-presidential election selloff. The market is still well above that starting point. Here is a daily chart with a couple of key moving averages. Today the index fell below its 50-day moving average and is about 12 points above its 200 day MA.
What will we see on the last day of the month? We'll find out soon enough. Meanwhile, nervousness in the market increased far more than today's 1.10% decline might indicate. Check out what the VIX did in the final five minutes of trading.
The S&P 500 is now up 11.52% for 2012 but 4.32% below the interim closing high of September 14th.
From a longer-term perspective, the index is 107.3% above the March 2009 closing low and 10.4% below the nominal all-time high of October 2007.
For a better sense of how these declines figure into a larger historical context, here's a long-term view of secular bull and bear markets in the S&P Composite since 1871.