US stocks enjoyed a strong end to the week Friday as the Dow Jones industrial average finished the session above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007, before the onset of the worst economic downturn in the US since the Great Depression. In fact, at 14,010, the Dow is now just 188 points below its all-time highest close of 14,198 set on October 12th, 2007. The S&P 500, meanwhile, also finished at its highest level since 2007 and is about 4 percent shy of its highest level ever. The Nasdaq enjoyed a 1.2 percent upswing on Friday, but is still well below historical highs.
With 2011 in the books, and the markets closed on Monday, it's time to take a look back at the top performing blue-chip issues on the Dow Jones industrial average index. Leading the way on the Dow in 2011 was McDonald's, whose shares rose 35 percent since January 1st, continuing its long-standing history of performing well during economic slowdowns. Over the last five years, McDonald's shares have gained more than 125 percent.
US and European stock markets are closed on Monday in honor of the Christmas holiday. But as investors around the world begin wrapping up their portfolios for the year, they are still keeping an eye on how the markets will fare during the week, which will likely decide whether the markets end up in positive territory for the year. Trading volume is typically very light in the final week of the year, as many investors elect to wrap up their portfolios early to begin preparing for year's end. But the few who trade until the end will decide whether the major US stock markets gained ground this year or lost it.
U.S. stocks fell sharply again on Friday, as the Dow and S&P capped off their fifth consecutive losing weeks. Investors were selling based on a disappointing jobs report, combined with a warning from Moody's that they may downgrade the U.S. credit rating if progress isn't made soon on raising the debt limit.
U.S. stocks plummeted Wednesday, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 posting their biggest one-day losses in nearly a year after a couple of disappointing reports seemed to indicate the economic recovery is slowing down. The slide began right after the opening bell when a report on private sector employment indicated weak job growth in May, then picked up steam later when a report showed U.S manufacturing activity declined more than expected.
US stocks surged in the last hour of trading on Friday, recovering losses from earlier in the day sparked by a Labor Department report that job growth in November was much lower than had been expected. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 20 points, or 0.2 percent, on the day led by strong gains from Bank of America and several stocks in the materials sector.
US stocks gained over 2 percent on Wednesday as several positive economic reports tempered investors' concerns about the European debt crisis.
The Dow Jones industrial average surged 249 point, or 2.3 percent on the day, while the S&P 500 gained 25 points, 2.2 percent, and the Nsdaq climbed 51 points, exactly 2 percent. The Dow's gain was its biggest since early September, and came in the footsteps of a disappointing November, when all three indexes posted monthly declines.
A better than expected retail sales report on Monday gave investors confidence, driving US stocks higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 52 points, or 0.5 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 7 points, or 0.3 percent, and the S&P 500 edged up 4 points, or 0.3 percent.
US stocks made slight gains during Wednesday trading, after falling sharply early in the session as the US dollar climbed to a one-month high against the euro and the yen. But the dollar fell as the day went on, leading to all three major indexes climbing out of their early holes to post moderate gains.
Microsoft released its third quarter results were released, and investors should be pleased with the report. The company's revenue in core businesses is up by ten percent, and the branch that includes the Xbox, previously viewed as an endless money pit, enjoyed a profit margin of more than 20 percent. But one potential area of concern for investors is that Microsoft seems to have too much cash.