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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Stocks’ rally caps wild month

Ken Sweet Associated Press

NEW YORK – For stock investors, there was no shortage of drama in October.

Stocks started the month modestly below a record high, only to cascade to their worst slump in two years. But after flirting with a correction, or a 10 percent drop, the U.S. market rebounded and closed at all-time highs on the last day of the month.

Both the Dow and the S&P 500 closed at record highs (see fact box).

It’s a remarkable turn given the month’s volatility, which at times approached levels from the 2008 financial crisis. Then again, the month has an unfortunate history for unsettling moves, with the stock market crashes of 1929 and 1987 both happening in October.

This October, the market’s seesaw path was driven by fears that Europe’s economy was slipping back into a recession, worries about plunging oil prices and concerns of possible weakness in the U.S. economy. Oh, and don’t forget Ebola. Those anxieties sent the market, for the most part, straight down for two weeks.

The nadir came on Oct. 15, when the S&P 500 came within a hair’s breadth of going into a correction.

But just after the market came close to going into a correction, it bounced right back. Strong U.S. corporate earnings were the primary driver of the rebound as well as signs that central banks in Japan and Europe were going to do all they could to stop their economies from dragging everyone else down with them.

“I don’t think it’s a surprise that we came close to a correction. We’ve been expecting one for a while. I think the bigger surprise has been how we rip-roared all the way back up,” said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management.

Friday’s gains were driven by the Bank of Japan, which surprised investors by announcing it would increase its bond and asset purchases by 10 trillion yen to 20 trillion yen ($90.7 billion to $181.3 billion) to about 80 trillion yen ($725 billion) annually. The announcement came after data showed that the world’s third-largest economy remains in the doldrums, with household spending dropping and unemployment ticking up.

European stock markets rose broadly following the Bank of Japan’s announcement on hopes that the ECB could be tempted to follow Japan’s lead in stepping up stimulus measures. However, few think anything will be announced at the ECB’s next policy meeting Thursday.

Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.3 percent. France’s CAC 40 jumped 2.2 percent and Germany’s DAX climbed 2.3 percent.

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