For a quiet week on the markets, there was still enough going on the global headlines to bring things down.
In the Middle East, Iran's recent threats to block a key path for crude oil through the Strait of Hormuz had been driving oil prices up the past several days. Today, it seemed people remembered that the U.S military could put a stop to that kind of blockade. Oil fell below $100 a barrel again.
In Europe, news that even more banks need the cheap loans the European Central Bank's been handing out also shook up the markets. Say it with us: the banks need the loans because they're not in good shape. Now, repeat. The euro fell below the $1.30 comfort zone to $1.29.
One game that a lot of market watchers are playing in these final days of 2011 days is the "Will it or won't it?" game with the S&P 500. Will it or won't it end in positive territory for the year? Robert Pavlik is the chief market strategist at Banyan Partners. He says for some hedge fund and portfolio managers who are underperforming this year, a negative S&P is a good thing. It'll make their losses seem not quite so bad. Pavlik says the general public however is likely rooting for positive year end for the S&P 500 because they associate it with how the economy is doing.
When it comes to looking ahead, Pavlik says a lot of the concerns that have roiled the markets, especially in the second half of this 2011 -- the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S presidential election -- are going to continue to plague the markets, probably at least until September 2012.