Wall Street showed some welcome signs of stability Thursday, taking a downbeat gross domestic product report in stride and driving the Dow Jones industrial average up nearly 190 points in relatively calm trading. Even the last half-hour of the session, lately a period of turbulent activity, was comparatively quiet.
The market that a week ago was reeling from fears about recession was more composed after the Commerce Department's report that GDP fell at an annual rate of 0.3 percent during the third quarter - its worst showing in seven years.
It's premature to say the market's volatility is over - most analysts expect trading to remain erratic for many months, and some believe investors will eventually test the lows that were reached on Oct. 10, when the Dow traded as low as 7,882.51. But Thursday's trading session was the most placid in weeks, a sign that the market might be in the process of bottoming, analysts say.
"It does look like the market is taking a tentatively better tone today," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist, director of asset allocation for RidgeWorth Capital Management. "Pessimism and skepticism have become the dominant mode of thinking."
World stock markets were stronger Thursday, led by sharp rallies in Asia and Latin America after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would supply new lines of credit to Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore to help them deal with the global credit crisis.
Gains were more moderate in Europe, however, where focus appeared more set on U.S. data that showed the economy shrank in the third quarter.