Stocks end week down

Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2008 at 9:45 p.m.

NEW YORK - Wall Street ended a painful week with another decline Friday as skittish investors unable to hold on to much optimism about the economy drew little comfort from President Bush's stimulus plan.

The day's trading reflected how fractious Wall Street has been in the new year. Investors pulled back from a big early advance, with the major indexes trading mixed as Bush began to speak. By the time the president finished announcing a plan for about $145 billion worth of tax relief, the indexes were well into negative territory.

"It's disappointed in the size of the economic growth package. Wall Street's showing its displeasure," said Kim Caughey, equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh. "Honestly, I think the institutional investors understand the limits to the government's ability to enact economic change."

Coming after Bush's announcement, Friday's pullback made it clear that the stock market is in for a protracted period of uncertainty and continued declines.

Investors have shrugged off all the positive signs they've received in recent days, including assurances last week from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that the Fed is ready to act aggressively - which means a likely big interest rate cut later this month - to help support an economy pummeled by devastation in the housing and credit markets.

That uncertainty made for a turbulent week on Wall Street. While it began optimistically, with the Dow Jones industrials surging 172 points on hopes that perhaps the worst of the housing and mortgage crisis might be over, deepening pessimism led to a 277-point plunge Tuesday and a 307-point slide Thursday.

For the week, the Dow and the Nasdaq composite index lost 4 percent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 gave up 5.4 percent.

In the 13 trading sessions of 2008, the Dow has lost nearly 9 percent, while the S&P has fallen 9.75 percent and the Nasdaq nearly 12 percent.

On Friday, the Dow, which was up more than 180 points early in the session, fell 59.91, or 0.49 percent, to 12,099.30.

The broader S&P 500 index fell 8.06, or 0.60 percent, to 1,325.19, while the technology-focused Nasdaq dropped 6.88, or 0.29 percent, to 2,340.02.

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