After the Bell

Dow Ends Its Losing Streak

By Jerry Knight
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 19, 2006; 6:06 PM

The stock market finally stopped falling today, staging a very modest rebound that ended the worst two-week sell-off in three years.

Even with Wall Street cheerleaders proclaiming the retreat to be a buying opportunity, stocks struggled repeatedly to overcome heavy selling pressure that swept through all markets today.

Prices of oil, gold, silver and copper all fell as speculators bailed out of those commodities, whose prices had climbed so high that market watchers were warning of a bubble. The week's retreat in commodity prices was the worst in 25 years, Bloomberg calculated, but it still left all those materials selling at prices that are high by historical standards.

It was hard to tell today whether the fall in commodity prices reflected simply a retreat from the bubble, or a fundamental change in the economic outlook.

The retreat in stock prices has been blamed on fear of inflation and higher interest rates, but the economic data do not document any major upturn in prices. The consumer price index released earlier in the week came in one-tenth of a percentage point higher than expected--hardly a big enough jolt to justify such a broad retreat in prices.

But the big bounce that some traders were predicting failed to materialize today as share prices rose only modestly, still ending the week with big losses.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 16 points to 11,144.06. That left the Dow 499 points off the all-time high it reached on May 10 and down 236 points this week.

The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index advanced 5 points to 1,267.03. It was down 24 points for the week and off 58 points from its recent peak.

The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index ended its eight-day losing streak with a rebound of almost 14 points to 2,193.88. Down 50 points for the week, the Nasdaq Composite has retreated 151 points since May 8.

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