U.S. equity markets, after receiving a bit of buying interest during President Obama's inaugural address, resumed their descent and headed toward fresh lows.

In recent trade, the DOW was off 1.99%. The broader S&P 500 was declining by 2.83% and the NASDAQ by 3.38%. Financials led the way lower, with institutional money manager State Street falling by over 48% after saying unrealized losses jumped in its commercial paper program and investment portfolio and that fourth quarter net income shrunk 73.6% to $65 million, or 15 cents per share, compared with $223 million, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected earnings of 58 cents a share. Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase were all lower by at least 10%.

The dollar was trading in risk-aversion mode, with gains of 1.19% on the euro, 3.25% on the pound and 1.78% on Australia's dollar. At the same time, the greenback was lower by 0.77% against the yen as stocks declined.

Crude oil for February delivery was recently trading up $1.39 (3.81%) to $34.75 per barrel. Goldman Sachs said yesterday that demand will decline by 1.6 million barrels a day in 2009, more than three times the drop forecast by the International Energy Agency last week. The IEA's latest forecast assumes global economic growth of 1.2% in 2009, half its previous estimate. It lowered projected daily demand in industrial nations by 530,000 barrels and consumption in developing nations by 480,000, including a 300,000 barrel-a-day reduction in China. Rising U.S. stockpiles and forecasts from the IEA and OPEC for declining world demand contributed to an 11% decline in crude prices last week. Prices are down 20% this year after falling 54% in 2008.

Gold for February delivery was recently trading up $15.30 (1.82%) to $854.60 per ounce after gaining $33.40 per ounce last Friday.