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Message: Stocks to watch
E.C.B. buzz fades, may drag stocks with it

n stock index was set to open lower on Wednesday as the initial enthusiasm faded about strong demand at European Central Bank's three-year tender

Stocks to watch at the opening bell once more include Research In Motion Ltd., which saw a 77% plunge in its market value in the last 12 months. The company has reportedly turned down overtures from Amazon.com Inc and other potential buyers because the BlackBerry maker prefers to fix its problems on its own, according to knowledgeable sources.

Toronto Stock Exchange operator TMX Group said it bought a 16% stake in the Bermuda Stock Exchange for an undisclosed amount.

On the economic slate, Statistics Canada said October retail sales jumped by an unexpected 1% from September, pushed up by stronger sales of motor vehicles and gasoline

The Canadian dollar traded at 97.52 U.S. cents.

Dow stock futures dipped 31 points, or 0.3%, to 12,000. S&P 500 futures were down 3.3 points, or 0.3%, at 1,232.70 points. Nasdaq futures fell 5.75 points to 2,261.

Offshore, stocks rose after the European Central bank lent $639 billion out to more than 500 European banks, the biggest infusion of E.C.B. credit into the banking system in the euro's history. But, soon afterwards, the excitement wore off.

Britain's FTSE 100 eased 0.6%, France's CAC 40 fell 0.7%, while Germany's DAX was off 0.4%.

The E.C.B.'s 489-billion-euro liquidity infusion is ultra-cheap, and for an unprecedented three years. To put it in perspective: When Lehman Brothers collapsed, the bank lent out only 442 billion euros, for one year.

The E.C.B. indicated the loans were designed to boost trust in banks, free up money markets and tempt banks to buy Italian and Spanish debt. It is trying to make sure that banks have enough ready cash to operate and keep lending to businesses so that a credit crunch does not choke off economic growth.

Japan's Nikkei surged 1.5%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng leapt 1.9%, following a 337-point rise by the Dow on Tuesday.

Gold eased back to $1,626.89 U.S. an ounce.

Copper prices rose to their highest levels in more than a week. Benchmark copper on the London

Metal Exchange traded at $7,486 U.S. a tonne.

Crude oil rose 0.3% to $97.55 U.S. a barrel.

Source: WALLSTmoney US Market Commentary (December 21, 2011 - 9:29 AM EST)

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