Another volatile day on Wall Street

Author: Kevin Allen

Reports of weak economic growth in the United States and mounting debt problems in Europe sent stock markets on another wild ride on Friday.

A day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 500 points — its worst day since 2008 — the index swung up and down in a 400-point range on Friday before closing up 61 points at 11,445.

The S&P 500 stumbled less than a point to 1,199 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 24 points to 2,532.

Local experts said Friday that uncertainty in the economy is likely to continue.

The still-fragile U.S. economy is growing too slowly by most measures, they said, and potential debt crises in Italy and Spain are adding to worries in Europe.

The U.S. government reported on Friday that about 117,000 jobs were created in July and that the unemployment rate inched down to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent in June. Those better-than-expected numbers, however, still were too low to alleviate concerns about another recession.

Investors also were shaken by rumors the U.S. credit rating could be downgraded from its top-level AAA status.

"You’ve got talk of a recession, talk of a global liquidity crisis and talk of the credit rating agencies downgrading the U.S. credit rating," said Scott Tapley, vice president and portfolio manager at 1st Source Corp. Investment Advisors. "All of those things are creating a three-pronged attack on investors’ confidence levels."

Jeffrey Bergstrand, a finance professor at the University of Notre Dame, said the U.S. economy is growing at an annual rate of about 2 percent, and that sluggish pace appears on track to continue for the next year.

"Which means little change in the unemployment rate for the rest of this year and into next year," he said.

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