Stocks End Dramatic Week With Rally

NEW YORK (AP) -

The stock market capped a turbulent week with a big gain Friday, a sign of renewed investor confidence after days of gloomy economic news.

It was the latest large move for a market which, with a few exceptions, has been on a mostly downward track since last month. Stocks have had four weeks of declines, leaving the Standard & Poor’s 500 index 6 percent below the record high from Sept. 18.

Investors rode wild market swings for much of the week. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged as much as 460 points Wednesday, then had one of its best days of the year on Friday, when it soared more than 260 points following strong earnings from big-name companies Morgan Stanley and General Electric, as well as some encouraging U.S. economic news.

The turmoil has not been limited to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Bonds, overseas stock markets and commodities prices have all had big moves this week.

The VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, has risen from 12 in mid-September to as high as 26 this week, above its historical average of around 20. That’s still far below the readings of 80 it had at the height of the 2008 financial crisis.

The Dow advanced 263.17 points, or 1.6 percent, to 16,380.41, its second-best day of the year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 24 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,886.76 and the Nasdaq composite rose 41.05 points, or 1 percent, to 4,258.44.

Investors also had two pieces of positive economic data to work through.

A survey by the University of Michigan showed consumer sentiment unexpectedly rose last month to 86.4, much higher than the 84.3 expected by economists. It was the highest reading for that survey since July 2007.

The Commerce Department reported that construction firms broke ground on more apartment complexes in September, up 6.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.017 million homes.

Next week investors will be watching one of the busiest periods for Wall Street this earnings season. A total of 130 companies in the S&P 500 index will report quarterly results next week.

On Friday oil prices rose slightly, but were still down 4 percent for the week on prospects of lower demand from a slowing global economy and high supplies.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 5 cents to close at $82.75 a barrel on the NY Mercantile Exchange.

The price of gold fell $2.20 to $1,239 an ounce, silver fell 11 cents to $17.33 an ounce and copper rose two cents to $3 a pound.