NEW YORK – The stock market closed out a remarkable 2009 with a loss as investors bet the improving economy will lead the government to pull back on its stimulus measures. But stocks still managed their best year since 2003 as they recovered from the financial crisis and recession.
Thursday’s trading, which came on extremely light pre-holiday volume, was a fitting end to a tumultuous year. Stocks fell to 12-year lows by early March on investors’ increasing pessimism, then rallied on growing signs of recovery in what turned out to be Wall Street’s biggest comeback since the Great Depression. In the last day of the year, more signs of healing first pleased investors, then had them concerned about the economy’s ability to thrive without government help.
The thin volume exaggerated the market’s moves. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 120.46, or 1.1 percent, to 10,428.05. For the year, the Dow rose 1,651.66, or 18.8 percent.
The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index, considered by professionals to be the market’s best barometer, fell 11.32, or 1 percent, to 1,115.10. The S&P ended the year with a gain of 211.85, or 23.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the Nasdaq composite index fell 22.13, or 1 percent, to 2,269.15. Powered by the recovery in high-tech stocks, the Nasdaq ended 2009 with a gain of 696.12, 43.9 percent.News that weekly unemployment claims fell to the lowest level since July 2008 gave stocks an initial blip Thursday, but the market gave back the gains as traders took some profits to close out their books.The Dow Jones industrial average closed the week down 92.05, or 0.9 percent, at 10,428.05. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 11.38, or 1 percent, to 1,115.10. The Nasdaq composite index fell 16.54, or 0.7 percent, to 2,269.15.
The Russell 2000 index, which tracks the performance of small company stocks, fell 8.68, or 1.3 percent, for the week to 625.39.
The Dow Jones U.S. Total Stock Market Index – which measures nearly all U.S.-based companies – ended at 11,385.11, down 237.70, or 2 percent.
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