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Standard & Poor's positive for 2011 once again

December 29, 2011 |  2:01 pm

Bull -- spencer platt getty
Is the Standard & Poor's 500 positive or negative for the year?

It depends on the day.

The S&P 500 index on Thursday once again reversed course and rose above the level where it was when 2011 began. The index has bounced in and out of positive territory all week.

The index ended the day up 1.1%, or 13.38 points, to 1,263.02. That is 0.4% above where the index stood when the clock turned on 2010. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.1%, or 135.63 points, to end Thursday at 12,287.04.  That is up 6.1% for the year.

Although it was fears about the European economy that sent markets down Wednesday, Thursday it was good news about the U.S. economy that gave investors confidence. An index of business activity showed that activity grew in November. Meanwhile, pending home sales also rose in November. New claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week.

The markets are particularly susceptible to sudden movements because of the relatively low volume of trading. The volume of trading of Dow stocks Wednesday was half what it was a week earlier and a quarter of what it was on some of the heavier trading days this month.

If the markets reverse course again Friday it will bring a fitting end to a year that has been marked by volatility and dramatic market swings.

RELATED:

Index of pending home sales climbs to 19-month high

Jobless claims jump 15,000 but stay below key 400,000 level

Freddie Mac: Record low mortgage rates haven't rescued housing

-- Nathaniel Popper

twitter.com/nathanielpopper

Photo: The bull statue in Lower Manhattan. Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

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