The world was watching Friday as Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the U.N. weapons inspectors, gave the Security Council their latest report -- but no one in the world could be sure what to make of it, co-anchor Geoff Colvin said to open the program.
Inspectors found no weapons of mass destruction but can't rule out their existence. They haven't found any nuclear weapons but are still looking. All exquisitely balanced, but did it lead us closer to or farther from war? No one, including the financial markets, seemed sure.
War was by far the newsiest factor affecting the economy and markets this week, but it was hardly the only one - in fact some experts don't even think it's the most important one, Geoff said. President George W. Bush spent part of his week pushing his economic stimulus package, while Alan Greenspan told the Senate he doesn't think the economy needs any stimulus. Consumers have started paying down debts and saving more, yet retail spending rose in January. It all affected the economy and markets.
Karen's market summary
The 4-week equity losing streak came to an end as investors went bargain hunting ahead of the long holiday weekend and amid the geopolitical uncertainty, but only after the major stock market averages touched four month lows, co-anchor Karen Gibbs said.
Fears of terrorism and war pushed crude oil prices over $36 per barrel, while stores were flooded with shoppers wanting duct tape and plastic sheeting. Mortgage rates continued their freefall, but failed to inspire new mortgage applications as war fears delay big ticket purchases. The University of Michigan survey showing consumer confidence dropping to 9 1/2 year lows.
All that push and pull made for a volatile week that left the Dow Jones Industrial Average up almost 45 points for the week, although Dow component General Motors took a hit after Bank of America downgraded the stock to a sell.
The Nasdaq Composite Index got a boost from Dell Computer, which issued a better than expected outlook for first quarter sales, ending the week almost 28 points higher. The S&P 500 added more than 5 points.
Morningstar's style boxes showed large cap growth stocks as the best performer, all thanks to Friday's volatile price action.
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