Wall Street Close: Stocks end another back-and-forth session mixed
October 17, 2008
NEW YORK – Wall Street ended a tumultuous two-week run relatively quietly Friday, finishing another back-and-forth session mixed as investors were cheered by signs of easing in the credit markets and managed to absorb lackluster economic news with equanimity.
The expiration of options contracts helped tug the market in different directions throughout the session. Still, the Dow Jones industrial average traded within a narrower range than it had in much of the past two weeks. The Dow ended down 127 but big rallies on Monday and Thursday gave the blue chips an advance of 4.8 percent for the week ” the best gain since March 2003.
The market spent the first half of the session vacillating, moving between gains and losses after the government said new home construction dropped by more than expected last month to the lowest pace since early 1991. But investors’ mood seemed to pick up later in the session as lending rates for bank-to-bank loans eased, indicating some bank fears about not being repaid by borrowers is easing.
Demand for safe-haven investments like Treasury bills also decreased. The final hour of trading again proved pivotal as in much of October; stocks fluctuated as investors squared away positions for the week.