- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wall Street staged a rally in the final minutes of trading Friday, closing mixed after overcoming a near-daylong downdraft spurred by a sell-off in high-tech and bank stocks.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index retreated below the 1,300 mark and the Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered during the late surge from a drop below 6,500.

At the close, the Dow rose 32.50, or 0.49 percent, to 6,626.94. The Nasdaq dipped 5.74, or 0.44 percent, to 1,293.85. The Standard & Poor’s 500 inched up 0.83, or 0.12 percent, to 683.38. More than 8.4 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange.

Despite a rally Wednesday and the late surge into positive territory Friday, the markets suffered a bad week. The Dow lost 6.2 percent, the Nasdaq fell 6.1 percent and the S&P; 500 sank 7 percent for the week, CNBC said. It marked the S&P; 500’s worst week since November, it said.

Bank stocks, the target of a weeks-long sell-off because of investor fears of insolvency, sustained some of the heaviest losses for the week. Citigroup lost 33 percent, JPMorgan Chase 31 percent, Wells Fargo & Co. 29 percent and Bank of America 20 percent, CNBC said.

JPMorgan took a dim view of future profits for Apple Inc., sending the iPod and computer maker into a slide of more than 6 percent that later bounced back to a loss of about 4 percent for the day. The stock closed at $85.24 a share.

Wall Street opened moderately higher Friday despite a government report showing that the unemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent, apparently in reaction to the February jobless numbers being less than they were in January and December.

Some bank stocks, which have taken a drubbing because of worries about the solvency of the financial system, went up, but JPMorgan Chase dropped nearly 7 percent. Wells Fargo & Co. announced a cut in its dividend from 34 cents to 5 cents, boosting its shares by more than 5 percent.

The Labor Department report put the official jobless rate at 8.1 percent, meaning a loss of another 651,000 jobs in February on top of the upwardly revised figures of 655,000 in January and 681,000 in December. The February number marked the highest number of jobless since December 1983.

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