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A better than expected employment report goosed the market futures and the S&P 500 popped at the open, hitting its intraday high three minutes later. The opening gains had disappeared within the first 45 minutes of trading, and after a couple of hours scuba diving in the shallow red, the index slowly sold off to close the day with a 0.94% loss. That virtually erased the gains for the Sandy-shortened week, cutting it to 0.16%. Why the sell-off? Some weak earnings, second thoughts about the impact of the storm, pre-election jitters: Take your pick or speculate on some vague combination of the three.

Here is a 5-minute chart of today's roll-over.

(click images to enlarge)

And here is a weekly chart of the past two years. 2012 has escaped the market savagery we saw in 2011. The question is how long the trend of the last seven weeks will last as we move to the Presidential election.

The index is now up 12.45% for 2012. From a longer-term perspective, the S&P 500 is 109.0% above the March 2009 closing low, and 9.6% 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.

Source: S&P 500 Snapshot: Good Employment Pop, But Other Realities Prevail