A dramatic week marked by a continued search for the elusive "bottom" ended with stock proxies lower and traders' nerves frayed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 72 points, or 0.7% to 10,215.22. The S&P 500 dropped 7 points, or 0.5%, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 22 points, or 1%, despite riding Google's ( GOOG) coattails higher on Friday. At the beginning of the week, investors were full of hope that earnings -- especially from the big guns of technology -- would help confirm a bounce from the five-month lows hit last week. But while some earnings were pleasing, others were very disappointing. Meanwhile, a slide in energy shares overshadowed any upside from crude oil's decline as Refco's ( RFX) unraveling continued into options expiration. There wasn't much fun for tech shares early in the week, especially after Intel's ( INTC) guidance disappointed Tuesday after the close. Yet the subsequent downdraft in tech shares -- and the broader market -- led to a Wednesday afternoon reversal that lifted the broader averages sharply higher. Even Intel finished near flat levels that day, leading trend watchers to believe that concerns over future earnings were finally priced into shares. Hopes ran high that the bounce from five-week lows that began last Friday finally had enough momentum to carry the market higher. But these hopes were thwarted Thursday after disappointing results from eBay ( EBAY) and a further slide in energy shares.
Facing the Contradictions
On balance, the week revealed an absence of sector leadership, with the energy sector remaining down for the count. On Friday, for instance, Google came to the rescue of tech shares, after posting stronger-than-expected earnings Thursday after the close. That helped the Nasdaq gain 14.1 points, or 0.68%, at 2082.21 on Friday. But the Dow sank 65.88 points, or 0.64%, to 10,215.22, weighed down by a 9% drop from Caterpillar ( CAT), whose earnings were hit by rising costs.