After the worst day for stocks since November of 2011, Wall Street bounced back slightly on Friday to end a week that was dominated by concern about the future of the Federal Reserve’s fiscal stimulus program following Chairman Ben Bernanke’s statement on Wednesday that the central bank was planning on cutting back on quantitative easing as soon as the end of the year.
After a 2.5 percent drop on Thursday, the S&P 500 was up 0.27 percent to close the week at 1,592.43 points, while the Dow ended the day at 14,799.40 on an advance of 0.28 percent. The Nasdaq was not quite so lucky, dropping 0.22 percent to close out trading at 3,357.25 points.
While there wasn’t much economic data to give markets significant upward momentum, investors were able to hold on to a small crumb of reassurance from St. Louis Fed Reserve President James Bullard, who emerged to publicly criticize the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to allow Bernanke to give a “more elaborate” timeline for slowing down the Fed’s $85 billion-per month in asset purchases. Economists are now forecasting the pace of purchases to be reduced to $65 billion per month by September, while the Chairman in his press conference on Wednesday said that the third round of quantitative easing would be wrapped up by mid-2014.
The S&P 500 got a great deal of support from REITs, with significant gains for Equity Residential (EQR), HCP Inc. (HCP), Avalonbay Communities Inc. (AVB), and Public Storage (PSA), all of whom advanced over 2.5 percent. Healthcare stocks enjoyed a good day as well, with drug manufacturer AbbVie Inc (ABBV), Baxter International Inc. (BAX), Cigna Corp. (CI), Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY) and Medtronic Inc. (MDT) all gaining over 2.5 percent as well.
On the Dow edged up on advances of over one percent for Procter & Gamble (PG), Coca-Cola (KO), Merck & Co. (MRK), Walt Disney (DIS), and Verizon Communications (VZ). Meanwhile, the Nasdaq was held back by big losses for SIRIUS XM radio (SIRI) and Oracle Corp. (ORCL) who dropped over 9 percent on high volume after releasing its earnings report earlier in the day and announcing that it was transferring its listing from the Nasdaq to the New York Stock Exchange.