On Monday, stocks reacted most unfavorably to the S&P decision to downgrade US debt to AA+ from AAA+ the previous Friday, as the S&P 500 index dropped almost 7%, and the Dow dropped below 11000. Investor panic caused volatility to spike to its highest level since the “Flash Crash” of May 6, 2010. While the volatility remained on Tuesday, stocks eventually soared on a roller coaster day that saw the Dow swing 600 points throughout the day. A Fed statement that interest rates would remain low through mid-2013 initially sank stocks, but the major indexes recovered with a bang in the final hour of trading. These gains, however, were wiped out and more on Wednesday with a 520 point loss for the Dow over concerns regarding French banks and European debt. It was the third consecutive day that the Dow experienced at least a 400 point move. On Thursday, stocks screamed up once again, as the Dow set a record for most consecutive 400+ point swings. Stocks settled some on Friday, as volatility and large intraday swings subsided on a lower volume day with the Dow gaining 125 points.
Despite the fall-out from the S&P debt downgrade and the extreme volatility, the markets lost a relatively small amount this week, with large-cap stocks faring better than small-cap stocks.