Stocks creep higher to close a week of brutal losses

The Dow rose 37 points to close at 10771 after its biggest weekly drop since 2008

Mark Lennihan/AP
Bank of America specialist Scott Wetzel monitors stock prices at the New York Stock Exchange, Sept. 23, 2011 in New York. The stock market crept up slightly on Friday, but investors fear that a global recession may already be under way.

A brutal week for the stock market ended on a quiet note Friday, but worries about the global economy continued to pound copper, gold and other commodities.

Fears about Europe's debt were stoked early Friday by news that Moody's Investors Service had downgraded its ratings of eight Greek banks by two notches. Finance ministers from 20 large countries pledged to take "all necessary actions to preserve the stability of the banking systems and financial markets." But they offered nothing specific.

Europe's problems helped feed the heavy selling this week. But the chief worry was that the U.S. is headed for another recession and that policy makers are running out of ways to fight it. Congress was in another standoff over spending that could force the government to shut down.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 37.65 points Friday, or 0.4 percent, to close at 10,771.48. The Dow lost 6.4 percent for the week, its biggest drop since the week that ended Oct. 10, 2008, when it fell 18 percent. That's was at the height of the financial crisis.

The S&P 500 index rose 6.87 points Friday, or 0.6 percent, to 1,136.43. For the week, the index dropped 6.5 percent, its worst slide since the first week of August.

The Nasdaq rose 27.56, or 1.1 percent, to 2,483.23.

John Merrill, chief investment officer at Tanglewood Wealth Management in Houston, said Friday's respite might not last.

"Nothing goes in a straight line, even markets that are declining steeply," he said. Merrill said the market was moderating as traders bought shares that looked like bargains after the week's selling. But the problems that have weighed on markets for months now show no sign of letting up.

It's common after a big plunge for volatility to ease as investors start buying stocks that look cheap. Bargain-hunters "bring some stability into the market for a day or two, until they've used up their buying power," Merrill said. "Then the macro issues surface again" and volatility returns.

Commodities from soybeans to metals sank Friday. Gold dropped 5.9 percent, copper lost 6 percent and silver 17.7 percent. Commodity producers also dropped. Range Resources Corp. fell 11 percent to $58.53. Newmont Mining Corp. fell 3.6 percent to $62.86.

Treasury yields rose slightly from record lows reached Thursday as the quieter stock market reduced traders' hunger for lower-risk bets such as Treasurys. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.80 percent from 1.73 percent late Thursday. Demand for Treasurys drives their prices higher and their yields lower.

Traders had sold gold to raise cash during Thursday's sell-off. They dumped other commodities that tend to lose value when the economy weakens, such as oil and raw materials.

Nearly two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was slightly above average at 5.1 billion shares.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.