The weekend is upon us, and you know what that means: Hold onto your cash until markets open on Mondays. Clearly, some investors don't want to be caught holding stocks while markets are closed. After all, scary things happen on weekends these days, when just about anything could happen to any company, any economy or any currency.
How else to explain the fact that major U.S. stock market indexes gave up all of their earlier gains on Friday and Canada's benchmark index also beat a retreat toward the end of trading (okay, besides the expiration of options)?
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 8852.22, down 127.04 points or 1.4 per cent. The index had been up more than 300 points, before tumbling about 430 points toward the close. The broader S&P 500 closed at 940.50, down 5.93 points or 0.6 per cent.
Financials were weak, with Citigroup Inc. falling 6.4 per cent and Bank of America Corp. falling 4.2 per cent. Google Inc. rose 5.5 per cent after it reported surprisingly strong quarterly results after the end of trading on Thursday.
Other moves seemed scattered. Home Depot Inc. rose 4.1 per cent, on a day when the latest look at the U.S. housing market presented another dismal picture. But a defensive stocks like Coca-Cola Co. fell 3.5 per cent. Meanwhile, another defensive stock, Kraft Foods Inc., rose 4.1 per cent.
In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 9539.14, up 269.17 points or 2.9 per cent. That's fine and good, and gives the index a gain for the week - but it had been up about 590 points earlier in the day.
Financials moved higher, with Royal Bank of Canada rising 1.3 per cent and Sun Life Financial Inc. rising 1.6 per cent. Research In Motion Ltd. rose 1.9 per cent. Energy stocks moved sharply higher after the price of crude oil crossed the $70-a-barrel threshold again, closing in New York at $71.85 (U.S.), up $2. Suncor Inc. rose 8.4 per cent and Canadian Oil Sands Trust rose 7.3 per cent.