NEW YORK — Wall Street started the new year with a big rally Friday, as investors, brushing aside a disappointing report on manufacturing, sent the Dow Jones industrials to its first close above 9,000 in two months. All the major indexes shot up more than 6 percent for the week.
“Over the last month you’ve started to see a change in sentiment and this certainly advances that,” said Carl Beck, partner at Harris Financial Group in Richmond, Va.
Economic data have been terrible for months and investors have shown little surprise even as some readings fell well short of economists’ already low expectations. During past recessions, the market has recovered ahead of the economy by growing numb to a stream of poor data and looking for signs that the downturn isn’t worsening.
“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, of Bryn Mawr Trust.
Bond prices fell as investors took on riskier assets. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.40 percent from 2.22 percent late Wednesday.Thorne contends 2009 could be a strong year for Wall Street because most investors are so shaken from the sell-off in 2008. 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.”
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 for 2009.