- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 1, 2009

Wall Street ended one of its worst 12 months in history Wednesday with a year-end rally.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average leapt 108 points, or 1.25 percent, to 8776.39. The tech-laden Nasdaq rose 26.33, or 1.70 percent, to 1577.03. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 increased 12.61, or 1.42 percent, to 903.25.

The markets possibly looked optimistically to the year ahead as mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported that interest on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dipped to an average of 5.10 percent for the week ended Wednesday, down from 5.14 percent last week the ninth consecutive drop and the lowest such rate since 1971.

The lower the mortgage, the more people will be willing to buy a house, reducing the country’s overstocked housing inventory, and the more current homeowners will want to refinance their current mortgages.

The fourth quarter of last year marked the worst in losses for the Dow and the S&P; 500 since 1987 and the worst for the Nasdaq since 2001, CNBC said.

Wednesday closed out one of the most punishing years for U.S. stock markets. The Dow plummeted 35 percent in its worst year since 1931, at the onset of the Great Depression. The Nasdaq lost 41.5 percent during the year, and the benchmark S&P; 500 gave up 39.3 percent.

Bond price tumbled as stocks advanced Wednesday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, jumped to 2.22 percent from 2.06 percent late Tuesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.12 percent from 0.06 percent Tuesday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Light, sweet crude jumped $5.57 to settle at $44.60 a barrel on light trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Overseas, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.94 percent and France’s CAC-40 added 0.03 percent. Markets in Japan and Germany were closed for holidays.

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