US stocks ride roller-coaster, finishing higher as Dow registers 870-point swing

  • The Dow was down more than 600 points at one stage on Thursday, before a furious late-day rally pushed it up 1.14 per cent
  • The increases on US indexes build on Wednesday’s massive gains
PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 1:58am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 5:39am

US stocks endured a roller-coaster ride on Thursday, diving hard before mounting a furious late-session recovery, as Wall Street’s wild Christmas week rolls on.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had slumped more than 600 points at one stage, but finished at 23,138.82, up 260 points for the day. The 870-point swing amounted to a gain of 1.14 per cent. The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 0.9 per cent to 2,488.83, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.4 per cent to 6,579.49.

The market’s gyrations have resulted in unusual volatility for the final days of the year. On the whole, it’s been a turbulent month – the market remains on track for its worst December since 1931, during the depths of the Depression, and could finish 2018 with its steepest losses in a decade.

“You’re watching the market wrestle with, ‘OK, are we within a couple per cent off the bottom, or does the community think there’s another 20 per cent lower?’” said Billy Huzar, client investment strategist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

Why the Santa rally in stock markets may just be a little late

The push into positive territory came in the final 30 minutes of the session. While trading is usually light during Christmas week, data has suggested volumes more in line with non-holiday sessions.

On Wednesday, US markets had their best day of the decade, with the Dow registering its biggest points gain ever. But even with those big gains, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are all down more than 10 per cent for the month.

“The last two days are really demonstrable of what the market is struggling with,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager of Globalt Investments.

“It’s looking for a bottom. It’s looking for a reason to gain a little more confidence. And it’s also looking for opportunities to reposition and lessen risk.”

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse