Opening Bell Report

The markets continued to sell off with billionaire Warren Buffet joining the chorus of investors to acknowledge an economic recession. The Dow lost 75 points to 12,191 while Nasdaq fell 12 points to 2259.

On the upside

HSBC Holdings (NYSE: HBC) posted higher 4th quarter profits despite taking some charges related to its exposure to subprime loans. The British bank closed its mortgage-backed operations in North America last year.

Diebold (NYSE: DBD), which makes business security systems and voting machines, received a $2.63 billion bid from United Technologies (NYSE: UTX).

Gold Fields (NYSE: GFI) said it may lay off nearly 7,000 workers due to power outages in South Africa. Reduced production tend to boost gold prices.

On the downside

Thornburg Mortgage (NYSE: TMA) reported an increase in margin calls which may put the jumbo mortgage lender out of business. The stock promptly lost more than half of its value.

A New York court may call off the buyout of Genesco (NYSE: GCO), according to a Dow Jones report. Investment bank UBS and footwear retailer Finish Line (Nasdaq: FINL) will pay cash and stock to Genesco as a settlement.

Shares of Force Protection (Nasdaq: FRPT) fell after the armored-vehicle maker announced a delay in its earnings report due to major accounting errors.

In the broad market, declining issues outpaced advancers by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 on the NYSE and by 5 to 3 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks fell 3 points to 683.

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