Stocks were mixed Thursday after another bumpy ride pushed the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite down and the Dow Jones industrial average up.
The Dow closed up 173 points, or 2.02%, at 8,691. The Nasdaq fell 11.84, or 0.73%, to close at 1,602.91, its lowest level since June 2003. The S&P 500 index rose 1.26%, or 11.33, to close at 908.11.
The Dow fell and rose, and fell and rose again, during another day with a 500-point spread showing that volatility is likely the new norm. Stocks moved on news that unemployment claims and foreclosures are up, while home values are down.
Large U.S. companies from automakers to banks have announced thousands of job cuts this week, and the U.S. Department of Labor reported 15,000 new unemployment claims last week, bringing to the total to 478,000.
FDIC Chair Sheila Bair told senators about a plan to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. That seemed to lift stocks, but bad news ensured another seesaw day. A report released Thursday counted 81,312 home foreclosures in September.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan acknowledged making some mistakes that led to the current crisis by assuming that lending institutions and self-interests would protect shareholders. He urged the federal government Thursday to increase regulation of default credit swaps and stabilize the housing market.
Greenspan said it would take "many months" for the situation -- which he called a once-in-a-century "credit tsunami" -- to improve. He predicted the economy would come out of the crisis more financially sound but warned it will take time to get there. In the meantime, he expects more layoffs and less consumer spending.
While the Nasdaq fell Thursday, some large technology companies fared well by comparison. Microsoft closed up 3.67%, at $22.32, as the company prepared to release its earnings statement. Shares received a significant boost of nearly 3.7% in after-hours trading on news of better-than-expected earnings.
Apple shares climbed 1.40% to close at $98.23. Google closed down 0.94% at $352.32 a share, after RIM stole some of its Android thunder by announcing a BlackBerry app store. Still, that didn't seem to help RIM shares, which fell 5.04% to $46.20.
Yahoo, eBay, and IBM saw their stocks climb slightly Thursday. Amazon stocks recovered from morning declines of 6% to close up 0.66% at $50.32 per share, a day after the company reported stronger-than-expected earnings, but weaker-than-expected sales and a scaled-back forecast for fourth-quarter and year-end results.
The company appears to be in the majority as it scales back earnings predictions. Thomson Reuters estimated that overall third-quarter earnings would be down 10.9% from last year.