US stocks closed out a difficult week with a mixed finish Friday after the Federal Reserve injected billions of dollars into the banking system to calm markets torn by worries about evaporating credit. The Dow Jones industrials, down more than 200 points during the session, ended with just a 31-point deficit and managed to post a gain for the week.
The stock market, which has been gyrating for weeks over fears that credit is drying up, pared its losses after the Fed's injections of cash and following morning comments from the central bank that it would do all it can to "facilitate the orderly functioning of financial markets." The steep declines seen at times during the session and persistent volatility, however, showed the depths of fear that had some investors yanking money out of stocks.
The Fed added $19 billion in liquidity to the market Friday morning, then another $16b. and, finally, $3b.
Federal Reserve policy makers "are trying to do everything they can short of cutting the federal funds rate" to try to calm the markets, said Ed Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research in Great Neck, NY
But, he said, "I think they probably have to cut rates, and probably before their scheduled September meeting."
The Dow closed down 31.14, or 0.23 percent, at 13,239.54. On Thursday, the Dow fell 387 points and extended a series of triple-digit moves that began in late July.
Broader stock indicators finished mixed Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 0.55, or 0.04%, to 1,453.64, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 11.60, or 0.45%, to 2,544.89.
All three indexes still finished higher for the week: The Dow rose 0.44%, the S&P advanced 1.44% and the Nasdaq added 1.34%. Sharp gains such as the Dow's 287-point climb Monday, left stocks better able to weather Thursday's plunge.
Shares slumped for the second straight session as credit-market fears continued to grip equity markets, causing investors to once more dump financials including Deutsche Bank, insurer AXA and hedge-fund manager Man Group.
The UK's FTSE 100 index lost 3.7% to 6,038.30, the German DAX 30 index fell 1.5% to 7,343.26 and the French CAC-40 index gave up 3.1% at 5,449.63.
Many of the losses were in the financial sector. Deutsche Bank skidded 3.5%, AXA dropped 3.4% and Man Group surrendered 9.1%. ABN Amro, the Dutch bank that's a high-profile target of competing acquisition bids, fell 3.5%.
Japanese stocks plunged, following a sharp fall on Wall Street overnight sparked by fears about a spreading credit crunch.
The Nikkei Stock Average of 225 issues shed 406.51 points, or 2.37%, to close at 16,764.09 points on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The broader Topix index, which includes all shares on the exchange's first section, fell 49.88 points, or 2.96%, to 1,633.93 points.
Hong Kong's blue chip Hang Seng Index shed 2.9% to finish at 21,792.70.
The dollar recovered against the yen as credit worries eased after the US Federal Reserve announced it would inject another shot of liquidity into the banking system.
The dollar dropped as low as 117.20 yen before bouncing back to 118.34 yen in late New York trading. It bought 118.29 yen late Thursday.
Against other major currencies, the dollar was mixed. Wary investors flocked to the currency for its safe-haven status, but the prospect of an economy-boosting Fed rate cut resurfaced.
The euro traded at $1.3696, up from $1.3686 in New York late Thursday. The pound declined to $2.0230 from $2.0238.
In other trading, the dollar bought 1.0520 Canadian dollars, down from 1.0564.
Price declines hit the energy, industrial metals and agriculture markets on Friday, but the worst losses were pared before the close. Gold, meanwhile, regained its status as a safer refuge after enduring losses a day earlier.
Oil fell as low as $70.10 then scaled its losses before the close. Light, sweet crude for September delivery fell 12 cents to close at $71.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The gasoline market reversed its losses in late trading after ConocoPhillips said it would delay the restart of a gasoline unit at a New Jersey refinery and as a tropical disturbance formed in the Atlantic Ocean. Also lending some support was a report from the International Energy Agency predicting strong growth in worldwide demand for oil.
Gasoline futures finished 2.08 cents higher at $1.9548 a gallon.
December gold jumped $8.80 to close at $681.60 an ounce on the Nymex. Silver picked up 16.5 cents to settle at $12.87 an ounce.