S&P 500 In 2011: Major Stock Index Ends Year Right Where It Started
* S&P flat on year, Dow higher, Nasdaq lower
* European shares post steepest annual fall in 3 yrs
* Bank of America is Dow's worst performer in 2011
* Indexes fall: Dow 0.5 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.2 pct
(Updates to afternoon)
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell
on Friday, the last trading day of a turbulent year,
with the broad S&P 500 index on track to end 2011 barely changed
from 2010's closing level.
Efforts by market participants over the past few days to
push the broader index into positive territory for the year were
not enough as ongoing uncertainty about the euro zone's debt
crisis and fears of a global recession curbed market sentiment.
The S&P was up 0.2 percent for the year. Not since 1970 has
the index shown such little annual movement in either direction.
But the Dow has gained 5.7 percent as investors sought safety in
large-cap, dividend-paying stocks. The Nasdaq is down 1.6
For Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average was down
63.31 points, or 0.52 percent, at 12,223.73. The Standard &
Poor's 500 Index was down 4.39 points, or 0.35 percent,
at 1,258.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 5.34
points, or 0.20 percent, at 2,608.40.
"The other times it (the S&P 500 index) didn't change much
during the year (such as this year), it performed quite well
during the next year," said Jason Goepfert, president of
SentimenTrader.com in a report.
"Overall, the years after these small-change years did well,
especially during the past 50 years."
Of those, the next year returned a median gain of 17.8
percent, according to Goepfert's data. The maximum loss averaged
only a decline of 1.6 percent versus a maximum gain that
averaged 20.9 percent. He also noted the final session of the
year has not had a great run lately, being positive only 34
percent of the time during the past 30 years.
Daily volume this week has been running about half of the
average, with many traders away for the Christmas and New Year's
holidays. The anemic action amplified moves in both directions.
The CBOE VIX volatility index is up about 30 percent
for the year, the first increase since 2008. The S&P climbed 9
percent at its peak, and dropped 14.5 percent to its bottom.
European shares closed up on Friday but recorded their
biggest annual drop in three years as debt tensions in the euro
zone strained the financial sector and threatened to derail a
fragile economic recovery.
Global markets have been battered this year by the debt
crisis, upheaval in the Middle East, a devastating Japanese
earthquake and tsunami as well as a struggling U.S. economy.
Defensive sectors like utilities outperformed growth
sectors, underscoring the view that investors were concerned
about the economic outlook.
Financials were the weakest group this year, falling
more than 18 percent, as the concerns about global growth threw
into doubt banks' ability to increase profits. Bank of America
Corp was the Dow's worst performer, tumbling 59 percent.
JPMorgan Chase & Co slumped 21 percent.
Cabot Oil & Gas Corp was the only S&P component to
double in 2011, up 103 percent, followed by another energy name,
El Paso Corp, which rose 92 percent.
McDonald's Corp advanced 31 percent, the biggest
gainer on the Dow.
Investors may have become too panic-stricken, some analysts
"Most of the Italian debt gets rolled over in the first
quarter ... Once that debt's rolled, if it's rolled
successfully, then there isn't any more to talk about this
subject we've beaten to death for over a year now," said Ken
Fisher, chief executive of Fisher Investments.
Ford Motor Co shares rose 0.2 percent to $10.70 after
the automaker said U.S. vehicle sales topped 2 million this year
for the first time since 2007, implying a 15 percent share in
the second-biggest auto market in the world.
Composite volume was 2.28 billion on the New York Stock
Exchange, the Nasdaq and Amex, lighter than normal for midday.
Advancers led decliners on the NYSE by about 4 to 3 on the
NYSE, while on the Nasdaq, they were about 3 to 2.
(Reporting By Angela Moon; additional reporting by Doris
Frankel in Chicago; Editing by Kenneth Barry)
Related on HuffPost: