Tim Paradis
Associated Press
October 16, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street remained tense Thursday, swinging between sharp gains and losses as investors examined mixed economic and earnings data for clues about the health of the economy. The Dow Jones industrials, down 380 at one point, later rose more than 100; the major indexes were also seeing wide swings.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Stocks were seeking a direction after the previous session’s steep dive, and turned lower after a disappointing report Thursday morning on manufacturing. Wednesday’s drop, which took the Dow down 733 points, followed a stream of bad economic news that underscored the likelihood that the country is either in a recession or will be in one — and that the downturn could be severe.

It was clear from Thursday’s trading that the market will continue having extreme reactions to any economic news.

“I don’t think the markets have a clear sense about the economic environment as of yet. They’re clearly nervous,” said Subodh Kumar, global investment strategist at Toronto-based Subodh Kumar & Associates.

Investors initially appeared cheered by a better-than-expected reading from the Labor Department on consumer prices. The flat reading on September’s Consumer Price Index compares with August’s 0.1 percent decline, which was the first in nearly two years. The core index, which eliminates food and energy prices, rose 0.1 percent. Economists had been expecting CPI would rise to 0.1 percent and that core CPI would increase 0.2 percent. Investors are relieved to see any economic pressures ease on consumers.

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