Another wild ride on Wall Street ended on Thursday with the major indices rallying furiously in the final 90 minutes of trading to rebound from heavy losses, which came on the heels of Wednesday’s historic 1,086-point gain.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average took a nearly 900-point swing between 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET, closing in positive territory with a 1% gain, or 260 points. At the start of trading on Thursday, investors were dismayed to see most of Wednesday’s gains wiped out.
Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Discovery, and Viacom were among the media and tech stocks hit hard during the downturn with more than 4% losses. But in the end, Netflix eked out a small gain for the day ($255.57, up .75%) while the others regained some ground.
The see-saw activity of markets this week has investors on edge. Wall Street watchers cited the promise of rising interest rates, the coming Democratic takeover of the House, the federal government shutdown, instability in the Trump administration, and President Donald Trump’s threats to engage in trade wars as big drivers for the selloff.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 300 points in early trading and was down by 611 points by around 2:40 p.m. ET. On Wednesday, the Dow shot up 1,086 points, a record gain on a points basis that beat the previous mark of 936 points set in October 2008. On a percentage basis, the Dow’s 5% swing on Wednesday was the biggest bounce since March 2009. And that buoyancy followed more than a week of steady losses, including a Christmas Eve rout on Monday.
Disney, Comcast, AT&T, CBS, and AMC Networks held up better with declines in the 2%-4% range during the selloff. All but CBS ended the day just over the line into positive territory, while CBS was flat at $43.37. Lionsgate couldn’t break out of its stock slump given the gravitational pull. The stock finished the day behind by .60% to $15.45.
The sectors that took the biggest blows included those vulnerable to disruption from trade strife and tariffs, namely oil and energy firms, banking, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical giants.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both down in the 2%-3% range during the day, but closed out trading with fractional gains (.38% for Nasdaq and .86% for S&P). Applause and cheers were heard on CNBC’s live coverage of the New York Stock Exchange’s closing bell, underscoring the demonstration of the collective will of investors to end the year on a positive note in the face of economic and political headwinds.
Discovery was the hardest hit among traditional media players. The stock was down more than 6% at one point, but ended the day down 3% to $24.78. Viacom closed out with a 1.5% drop to $25.89. Apple and Amazon both battled back from steep drops to close out with less than 1% declines, with Amazon finishing out at $1,461.64 and Apple at $156.15. Facebook was down for most of the day, but squeaked out a .25% gain to $134.52. Google had a similar trajectory, spiking around 2:15 p.m. ET to wrap the day with 0.43% improvement to $1,043.88.
AMC Networks ($54.55, up 1.26%) and Comcast ($33.37, up 1%) were the best performers among traditional media stocks. Disney ($106.52, up .65%) and AT&T ($28.15, up .25%) were essentially back where they started after Wednesday’s boom.
The unpredictable nature of the market’s response to growing fears about a possible global economic downturn and the Trump-era dysfunction in Washington has flummoxed veteran traders.
“You can’t forecast more than three hours (ahead) in this market,” Steve Grasso, director of institutional sales for Stuart Frankel & Co., told CNBC on Thursday.