A New Year’s rally

The first day of trading in 2009 saw a rally on the stock markets, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average back up over 9,000. Whether it will remain above that mark — and whether the stock market will remain bullish in coming months, or even today — is anybody’s guess.

The 250-point rally in the Dow on Friday came despite the release of a report that same day that said the manufacturing activity index for the United States fell in December to its lowest level in 28 years.

Other economic news, from holiday retail spending to unemployment numbers to housing prices to consumer confidence, has been generally dismal in recent weeks. Even so, while the stock market hasn’t rallied, it generally has held its own without falling into a tailspin.

But some observers Friday suggested the boost in stock prices — not just on the Dow but on all major stock indicators — could be due to light trading on the day after New Year’s, driven mostly by modest numbers of upbeat buyers.

What happens today will be more telling. But few market experts expect to see a sustained rally in stock prices early in this new year.

It’s not hard to believe that the first few months of this year will prove to be just as wild a ride for those invested in the stock market as the last few months of 2008 were.


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