Stocks are fighting to stave off their the worst December since the Great Depression


Stocks rose for a second session Friday as Wall Street attempted to shake off concerns about a government shutdown, trade tensions, and the prospect of slowing growth, which have led to wild market swings in the final week of 2018.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose nearly 100 points, or 0.4%. The S&P 500 gained 0.4%, and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.3%. On Thursday, the major averages made a dramatic comeback to end slightly higher after dropping more than 2% each.

“All this did, however, was add to what has become a surprisingly volatile end to the trading year, seemingly doing its best to compress 2018’s moves into the space of just a few days,” said Mike van Dulken, an analyst at Accendo Markets.

The final week of the year has been marked by dramatic equity movements and threatened to end the longest bull-market run in history.

Even after the Dow jumped more than 1,000 points to post its best daily point increase on record and other averages posted their largest percentage gains in nearly a decade on Wednesday, a series of sharp sell-offs have left stocks on track for their worst December since the Great Depression. That would be the case if the S&P 500 closes below 2,594.56, according to CNBC.

“Unfortunately, we expect to see this sort of intraday volatility remain in place through year-end as large trades make their way through a liquidity-challenged (and algo driven) market,” Scott Buchta, a strategist at Brean Capital, said in an email.

Turmoil in Washington has added to uncertainty, with the government entering its seventh day of a partial shutdown. Lawmakers on Thursday punted a funding dispute that would reopen the federal government to the next Congress, as President Donald Trump doubled down on demands for his long-promised wall along the US’s southern border.

Perhaps helping the mood, China said it would allow rice imports from the US for the first time. That could thaw tensions between the largest economies ahead of a March deadline for a trade agreement. A day earlier, however, Reuters reported Trump is considering an executive order that would ban American companies from using equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE.

On the commodities front, oil prices rose nearly 1%. But they remain deep in a bear market, down more than a third from October highs, with West Texas Intermediate trading at about $US45.20 a barrel and Brent just above $US52.

The dollar slumped 0.3% against a basket of major peers, a day after consumer confidence readings dropped by the most since 2015. Treasury yields, meanwhile, were slightly higher.

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