Talk of stimulus fails to boost Wall Street
NEW YORK – Wall Street ended a painful week with another decline Friday as skittish investors unable to hold on to much optimism about the economy drew little comfort from President Bush’s stimulus plan.
The day’s trading reflected how fractious Wall Street has been in the new year. Investors pulled back from a big early advance, with the major indexes trading mixed as Bush began to speak. By the time the president finished announcing a plan for about $145 billion worth of tax relief, the indexes were well into negative territory.
Coming after Bush’s announcement, Friday’s pullback made it clear that the stock market is in for a protracted period of uncertainty and continued declines. Uncertainty made for a turbulent week on Wall Street. The Dow and the Nasdaq composite index lost 4 percent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 gave up 5.4 percent. In the 13 trading sessions of 2008, the Dow has lost nearly 9 percent, while the S&P has fallen 9.75 percent and the Nasdaq nearly 12 percent.
The market will likely need a long string of upbeat economic and corporate reports before it can regain its footing – and with the economy clearly weak right now, it is likely to be a while before that kind of data becomes available.
On Friday, the Dow, which was up more than 180 points early in the session, fell 59.91, or 0.49 percent, to 12,099.30.
The broader S&P 500 index fell 8.06, or 0.60 percent, to 1,325.19, while the technology-focused Nasdaq dropped 6.88, or 0.29 percent, to 2,340.02.
The week’s sell-off left the Dow and the S&P 500 well below their October highs – which had the Dow at a record trading high of 14,198.09. The Dow has fallen more than 2,000 points, or 14.6 percent, while the S&P 500 is down nearly 240 points, or 15.3 percent.
Washington Mutual rose $1.09, or 8.8 percent, to $13.55. Many investors, in anticipation of an even bigger fourth-quarter loss, had driven the savings and loan’s stock sharply lower Thursday.
In overseas trading, Japan’s Nikkei stock index rose 0.56 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.35 percent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 finished down 0.01 percent, Frankfurt’s DAX fell 1.34 percent and Paris’ CAC fell 1.25 percent.