Stocks started the month modestly below a record high, only to cascade to their worst slump in two years. But after flirting with a correction, or a 10 percent drop, the U.S. market rebounded and closed at all-time highs on the last day of the month.
All told, U.S. stocks ended October solidly higher, up 2.3 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average capped the rally by rising 195.10 points, or 1.1 percent, to end at 17,390.52 on Friday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 23.40 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,018.05 and the Nasdaq composite added 64.60 points, or 1.4 percent, to 4,630.74.
Both the Dow and the S&P 500 closed at record highs.
It’s a remarkable turn given the month’s volatility, which at times approached levels from the 2008 financial crisis. Then again, the month has an unfortunate history for unsettling moves, such as the stock market crashes of 1929 and 1987.
This October, the market’s seesaw path was driven by fears that Europe’s economy was slipping back into a recession, worries about plunging oil prices and concerns of possible weakness in the U.S. economy. Oh, and don’t forget Ebola. Those anxieties sent the market, for the most part, straight down for two weeks.
U.S. companies have been, for the most part, reporting strong quarterly results the last two weeks. Corporate profits are up 7.3 percent from a year ago, according to FactSet, compared with the 4.5 percent investors had expected at the beginning of the month. And any worries about the U.S. economy earlier in the month evaporated as the data rolled in, mostly recently Thursday’s data showing the U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent pace last quarter.
Friday’s gains were driven by the Bank of Japan, which surprised investors by announcing it would increase its bond and asset purchases by 10 trillion yen to 20 trillion yen ($90.7 billion to $181.3 billion) to about 80 trillion yen ($725 billion) annually. The announcement came after data showed that the world’s third-largest economy remains in the doldrums, with household spending dropping and unemployment ticking up.
European stock markets rose broadly following the Bank of Japan’s announcement on hopes that the ECB could be tempted to follow Japan’s lead in stepping up stimulus measures. However, few think anything will be announced at the ECB’s next policy meeting next Thursday.
Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.3 percent. France’s CAC 40 jumped 2.2 percent and Germany’s DAX climbed 2.3 percent.
In other markets, the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil fell 58 cents to $80.54 a barrel in New York as increasing production from OPEC members added to already high global supplies of oil.
Brent crude, used to price oil in international markets, dipped 38 cents to $85.86 in London. In other energy futures trading on the NYMEX, wholesale gasoline fell 2.6 cents to close at $2.169 a gallon, heating oil fell was flat at $2.515 a gallon and natural gas rose 4.6 cents to close at $3.873 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.34 percent from 2.31 percent Thursday.
In metals trading, the price of gold fell $27 to $1,171.60 an ounce. Silver fell 31 cents to $16.11 an ounce and copper fell 2 cents to $3.05 a pound.