Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Friday, September 21, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

Dow suffers
worst one-week
point drop ever

The volatile blue-chip index loses
an additional 140 to end the
5-day period down 1,369.70

By Amy Baldwin
Associated Press

NEW YORK >>Wall Street, consumed by political and economy uncertainty, sold stocks sharply lower for the fourth time in five sessions today, giving the Dow Jones industrials their biggest one-week point decline ever.

The stock market's best-known indicator fell more than 140 points for the day and 1,369.70 for the week, by far eclipsing the previous one-week record drop of 821.21 set March 16.

Clearly, Americans were in no mood to take chances in the first week of trading after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The market was closed for four days after the attacks, and so this week's trading, which sent stocks to their lowest levels in almost three years, represented Wall Street's reaction to the assaults.

Today's trading was volatile amid worries about how the United States will retailiate for last week's terrorist attacks and how much the economy will suffer in the months ahead. Technical factors that can make prices fluctuate in the best of times also affected the activity.

The Dow had several big swings -- falling 313 points in the opening minutes of trading, surging to a gain of more than 50 points an hour later and then falling back again.

"This is an extraordinarily emotion-filled stock market environment," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany. "Investors are scrambling to defend their nest eggs."

The Dow fell 140.40 to 8,235.81, a loss of 1.7 percent. The Dow's drop for the week amounted to 14.26 percent; that is the fifth-largest percentage decline and the biggest since May 1940, when the Dow traded at 122, less than the decline alone today.

The Nasdaq composite index was down 47.74,or 3.3 percent, at 1,423.19, while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 18.74, or 1.9 percent, to 965.80.

Volume was extremely heavy at more than 2.27 billion shares, ahead of the 1.93 million shares traded yesterday.

The New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 9.95 to 504.21, the American Stock Exchange composite index lost 9.24 to 786.82 and the Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, was down 8.76 at 378.89.

Three stocks fell for every one that rose on the NYSE, with 2,433 down, 801 up and 148 unchanged. It was an improvement over the 10-to-1 ratio in early trading.

Another sign of the heavy selling: One of out of every four stocks that traded on the NYSE posted a new 52-week low.

Treasuries gained as investors turned to the safest securities. The 2-year note was unchanged at 1011332; its yield remained at 2.87 percent. The 10-year note rose 1332 to 1021432; its yield fell 5 basis points to 4.69 percent. The 30-year bond jumped1832 to 97132; its yield fell 4 basis points to 5.58 percent.

While the market historically falls in the first few weeks or months following catastrophes and other conflicts, such as the Persian Gulf war in 1991, and then heads higher over the long term, Johnson said that's no comfort to investors right now.

"They are saying, 'Just get me out at all costs. I can't stand anymore,' "Johnson said. "I try to give them perspective by looking at other crises. But even when you give them perspective, they dismiss it, because they are so scared."

Today's volatility was also due to what's known as a triple witching session, the quarterly expiration of index futures and index and stock options.

A positive outlook by General Electric, which said in late morning it is on track to deliver double-digit earnings growth in 2001 and 2002, briefly helped the market.

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