At any given moment on Friday afternoon, investors were either cheering the return of the Dow Jones industrial average or cowering under their desks out of concern that yet another level of support for the index was being crushed.
In the end, though, the index closed out the week on a relatively quiet note. The Dow ended at 8451.19, down 128 points, or 1.5 per cent - its eighth straight decline, but the shallowest setback since the start of the month. The broader S&P 500 closed at 899.23, down 10.69 points, or 1.2 per cent.
Some financial firms actually saw some gains, which may come as a relief for those investors who have been seeing visions of the global financial system melting. Citigroup Inc. rose 9.1 per cent and JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 13.5 per cent. Morgan Stanley, however, was a notable exception: It tumbled 22.3 per cent on concerns about its health.
Still, the carnage during the week was nothing short of amazing. The Dow and the S&P 500 each fell 18.2 per cent. According to Bloomberg News, that's the worst one-week setback since 1933. In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 21.1 per cent during the week and Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 24.3 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Board Options Exchange volatility index, or VIX, shot above 70 - another record high in what has been a series of record-breaking days and a sure sign that the level of fear among investors is at extreme levels.
In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 9065.2, down 534.98, or 5.6 per cent - a sharper decline than that seen in the United States thanks to its heavier exposure to commodities, which plunged as the U.S. dollar rallied.
Suncor Energy Inc. fell 6 per cent and EnCana Corp. fell 12.8 per cent after the bottom fell out of crude oil; it traded at $77.70 (U.S.) a barrel, down $8.89. Barrick Gold Corp. fell 12.8 per cent after the price of gold slid to $859 an ounce, down $27.50.