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Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

Positive GDP revisions and an optimistic Beige Book couldn’t overcome the general lack of enthusiasm after the European Central Bank’s second and final LTRO this morning. But first, your scoreboard:Dow: -0.4%, 12,951.6, -45.5
S&P 500: -0.5%, 1,365.7, -6.52
NASDAQ: -0.7%, 2,966.9, -19.2

And now, the top stories:

  • European markets closed down after 800 banks were allotted €529.5 billion ($707.3 billion) in cheap funding from the ECB. While that beat expectations of €470 billion, it did not appear to be a high enough number to reassure investors that renewed escalation of the sovereign debt and bank crises is not in the works. MORE: The LTRO Bubble Has Popped, And Europe Is About To Find Itself In A World Of Trouble >
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis revised estimates of 2011 fourth quarter GDP upwards, saying that the economy grew at an annualized pace of 3.0 per cent during that period. CONFIRMED: It Really Is Halftime In America >
  • Chicago PMI smashed expectations, coming in at 64.0 versus expectations of a slight increase to 61.0. The only smudge on an otherwise jolly day for the economy was the NAPM-Milwaukee Purchasing Managers Index, which didn’t increase as much as expected. 
  • James Murdoch stepped down from his post as Executive Chairman of News International—News Corp.’s British newspaper division—amid ongoing questions about his ties to the phone-hacking scandal that has threatened the company’s credibility since the summer. In a statement, News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said his son would continue to perform a “variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations.”
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified in front of Congress that the economy is continuing to improve slowly despite risks from the global economy. He added that oil prices could affect inflation in the short term, but are not a long term threat. DON’T MISS: Ron Paul Just Put On A Great Show In Front Of Bernanke >
  • Gold and silver staged a massive selloff today beginning just as Bernanke took the floor. That continued well into the afternoon. Gold was down -5.4 per cent and silver fell -7.9 per cent.
  • The Federal Reserve Beige Book indicated that economic activity is improving in nearly every region in the country. GOLDMAN: Here’s What The Biggest Industrial Companies Are Telling Us About The Economy >
  • BONUS: What It’s Like To Ride Your Bike 20,000 Miles From Alaska To Argentina >


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