A holiday and a Presidential Inauguration garnered market participants' attention into midweek. In addition, activity remained limited on Wednesday as investors waited for more information on the new administration's plans to deal with the latest escalation in bank problems as well as a contracting economy.

There were more bank failures. Royal Bank of Scotland warned that worsening conditions in the fourth quarter could result in a $41.3 billion loss for 2008, which led to further support from the U.K. government. It said write-downs could total nearly $12 billion for the year. Citigroup also cut its dividend rate to a cent from 16 cents following its $8.29 billion net loss for the fourth quarter and $18.72 billion loss for the entire year. Its stock price was trading around $3.00 a share in the early week with talk of nationalization swirling around the markets.

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