US stocks end wild week on tepid note

Traders work ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Dec 27, 2018.
Traders work ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Dec 27, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street finished a choppy session mostly lower on Friday (Dec 28), a tepid conclusion to a raucous week that included an exceptionally bad Christmas Eve and an historic rebound.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.3 per cent at 23,062.40.

The broad-based S&P 500 declined 0.1 per cent to 2,485.74, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 0.1 per cent to 6,584.52.

Markets bounced repeatedly between positive and negative territory on a quiet news day characteristic of the normally sleepy period between Christmas and New Year.

Stocks plunged on Monday amid worries that President Donald Trump could fire Federal Reserve chief Jay Powell and unease after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with banks in an effort to reassure the markets that instead amplified doubt.

But stocks surged on Wednesday in a relief rally spurred in part by White House assurances that Powell's job was secure.

Major US indices are almost certain to end the year with losses. While investors aren't sure what 2019 will bring, more big swings are certainly possible.

"We're still working through the volatility," said Manulife senior portfolio manager Nate Thooft.

"I don't think we'll see meaningfully lower lows, but a retest is certainly not out of the question."

Among individual companies, Tesla Motors shot up 5.6 per cent after announcing that it named Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Walgreens Boots Alliance executive vice-president Kathleen Wilson-Thompson to its board of directors, completing the requirements of a US settlement of fraud charges involving chief executive Elon Musk.

Wells Fargo advanced 0.6 per cent after it announced a US$575 million (S$785 million) nationwide settlement over its opening of millions of unauthorised customer accounts and other alleged predatory practices.