NEW YORK — Wall Street started 2009 with a big rally Friday as investors, brushing aside a disappointing report on manufacturing, sent the Dow Jones industrials up more than 250 points and to their first close above 9,000 in two months. All the major indexes shot up more than 6 percent for the week.
The market lived up to the hopes of many analysts that it would have a fresh start in the new year after a horrific 2008. But many traders were also waiting to see how the market fares next week; they’re cognizant of the fact that post-holiday volume was light and therefore Friday’s trading might not be the best indicator of market sentiment.
Still, the market held to its pattern of taking bad economic news in stride, a pattern that began to emerge after it touched multiyear lows on Nov. 20.
World stock markets also rallied strongly Friday on the first trading day of 2009 as New Year’s optimism more than offset grim economic news from around the globe.
The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 127.62 points, or 2.9 percent, at 4,561.79, while Germany’s DAX was 162.87, or 3.4 percent, higher at 4,973.07. France’s CAC-40 rose 131.72 points, or 4.1 percent, to 3,349.69.
“It is customary to greet the New Year with a surge of optimism. Past cares are buried as eyes are raised to more distant horizons,” said Stephen Lewis, an analyst at Monument Securities.
The rally in the United States came despite a report from the Institute for Supply Management that said its manufacturing activity index fell to the lowest level in 28 years in December. The ISM, a trade group of purchasing executives, said its manufacturing index fell to 32.4 last month from 36.2 in November. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a reading of 35.5; a figure below 50 indicates contraction.
“We like to see the markets shrug off the bad news. That typically is a sign that we’re forming a bottom,” said Eric Thorne, an investment adviser at Bryn Mawr Trust.
Todd Leone, managing director at Cowen &Co., cautioned against reading too much into Friday’s advance and said the first full week of the new year should provide insight into investor sentiment for 2009.
“The first five days are usually very telling,” Leone said. “I’m not sure we’ll be up or down.” He said an advance in stocks Friday wasn’t a surprise as some investors start the year by wading into the market. He said selling is more likely to occur next week.
The Dow rose 258.30 to 9,034.69, finishing the week up 6.1 percent. The blue chips last closed above 9,000 on Nov. 5, when they stood at 9,139.27.
The Dow, the oldest of the big market indexes, fell 33.8 percent in 2008, its worst performance since 1931.
Like the Dow, broader stock indicators also advanced for the third straight session. The Standard &Poor’s 500 index rose 28.55 percent, or 3.16 percent, to 931.80, its highest close since Nov. 5. The Nasdaq composite index rose 55.18, or 3.50 percent, to 1,632.21.
For the week, the S&P 500 finished up 6.8 percent, while the Nasdaq rose 6.7 percent.
Bond prices fell as investors took on riskier assets, including stocks. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.39 percent late Friday from 2.22 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments and in great demand since the credit markets seized up in September, fell to 0.07 percent from 0.08 percent Wednesday.
Thorne contends 2009 could be a strong year for Wall Street because most investors are so shaken from the sell-off in 2008, which erased six years of gains in stocks. Market bottoms often emerge because investors are so pessimistic or because stocks seem incapable of making any sustained recovery.
“A bottom isn’t formed in one day or even in one month but probably over several months,” he said. “Expectations are extremely low for the economy, for corporate earnings and for the stock market itself.”
Since hitting multiyear lows on Nov. 20, the Dow has advanced 19.6 percent, while the S&P 500 is up 23.8 percent.
“We’re very confident that the $9 trillion that is in cash right now will look to find a home in better-performing assets,” he said, referring to the amount of money invested in conservative but low-yielding areas like money market funds. Yields on safe investments such as Treasurys have fallen to virtually nil as investors have clamored for safety and surrendered hopes of even earning a return on their money.