NEW YORK – The wildest week in Wall Street history ended with a second day of gains.
The Dow Jones industrial average finished Friday with a gain of 125 points. Most other times it would have been a fairly big day. By this week’s standards, it was a sleeper. Friday capped a week when the blue-chip index had four 400-point swings in a row for the first time in its 115-year history.
Trading was frantic across financial markets all week. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note hit a record low. Gold briefly topped $1,800 per ounce. Nearly every one of the 500 stocks that make up the Standard & Poor’s 500 index ended down midweek.
“It was a sharp and violent week in the stock market, but it’s my sense that the worst is over,” said Michael Kaufler, a portfolio manager at Federated Investors.
Investors reacted to every scrap of news and each whispered rumor. A credit downgrade for the U.S.. Concerns about European bank solvency. Fears of a possible new recession in the U.S. Word that the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates low for two more years because of slowing growth. A positive retail sales report. Strong earnings from a technology bellwether. Better unemployment news.
The Dow dropped 634 points Monday, its sixth-worst point drop ever, as investors responded to Standard & Poor’s withdrawal of the country’s AAA credit rating. It was the first downgrade of U.S. government debt in history. The Dow rose 429 points Tuesday, only to plunge 519 points Wednesday. It surged 423 points on Thursday following a better than expected drop in new applications for unemployment benefits.
Financial stocks continued to slide Friday. Investment bank Morgan Stanely fell 7 percent amid concerns about U.S. banks’ exposure to the financial crisis in Europe and lawsuits related to poor-quality mortgage securities sold before the financial crisis of 2008. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. also lost ground.