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Uncertainty Blooms in Volatile Market

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page F09


The stock market hit a new low for the year Wednesday and scored its biggest gain in two years Thursday -- leaving investors confused.

Was this the long-awaited turning point that marked the end of an 800-point slide by the Dow Jones industrial average?

Traders were cautious about proclaiming a turn, especially when Thursday's 206-point gain by the Dow was followed Friday by a 60-point loss.

Only a barrage of buying in the final half-hour of trading Friday kept the Dow and other indexes in the black for the week. The Dow closed up 70 points for the week, at 10,157.71. The Nasdaq composite index gained 24 points, to 1932.19. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gained 10 points, to 1152.12.

The Dow has moved 100 points or more five times in the past 10 days, a pattern so volatile that Thursday's big gain produced surprisingly little celebration. There was simply too much uncertainty about stocks to break out the champagne. After Friday's close call, traders were more likely to turn to Maalox and Excedrin than Moet & Chandon.

-- Jerry Knight

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