NEW YORK – Investors’ ambivalence about earnings reports gave Wall Street a mixed performance Friday.
Traders pounced on companies showing signs of life and dumped companies whose quarterly results fell short of expectations. Better-than-forecast results from Google Inc. helped technology shares while lackluster numbers from General Electric Co. reinforced investors’ concerns about the depths of the recession.
Stocks ended a volatile session well off their lows. A sizable comeback Friday was the latest back-and-forth seen throughout a turbulent week; the Dow tumbled 4 percent Tuesday, jumped 3 percent Wednesday and fell again Thursday.
For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 203.66, or 2.46 percent, to close at 8,077.56. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 18.17, or 2.14 percent, to close at 831.95. The Nasdaq composite index slid 52.04, or 3.40 percent, to 1,477.29.
The Russell 2000 index, which tracks the performance of small company stocks, fell 22.09, or 4.74 percent, to 444.36.
The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index – a free-float weighted index that measures 5,000 U.S. based companies – ended at 8,385.13, down 218.04 points, or 2.53 percent, for the week. A year ago, the index was at 13,473.13.
Although earnings and company outlooks ultimately dictated the direction of stocks, this was also the first week of the Obama administration. While the new president pushed Congress to approve an economic stimulus plan, investors still struggled with fears that the now 14-month-old recession will be protracted in spite of the government’s efforts.
“I think we had a lot of bad news to absorb and stocks did OK,” said Thomas J. Lee, equities analyst at JPMorgan, referring to the week’s performance.
“We had bad earnings. It’s all coming in below reduced expectations,” Lee said.
The results, particularly from the banks, weighed on stocks. Fears arose that banks’ were so troubled the government would have to step in and essentially take over some financial companies. Such a move would most likely wipe out shareholders and revive fears that the economy is even worse off than investors had assumed.
Meanwhile, bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.62 percent from 2.60 percent late Thursday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, was flat at 0.09 percent from late Thursday.
The dollar was mostly higher against other major currencies, and gold prices rose.
Light, sweet crude jumped $2.80 to settle at $46.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Overseas, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.01 percent, Germany’s DAX index fell 0.96 percent, and France’s CAC-40 lost 0.71 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 3.81 percent.
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