Stocks have been pushing higher for weeks, not because investors think the economy is healed but because of expectations, then confirmation, that the Federal Reserve would step in and try to fix it.
Most of Friday seemed like another day in the Fed rally, which began in earnest early this month, until stocks slipped in the late afternoon. The Dow Jones industrial average rose as much as 50 points before falling into the red in the last half-hour of trading. It’s just the fourth day in September that the Dow hasn’t managed a gain.
Still, the declines were small. The Dow lost 17.46 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,579.47. The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell in the final minutes of trading, closing down a minuscule 0.11 point, or 0.01 percent, to 1,460.15.
The other main index, the Nasdaq composite, rose four points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,179.96.
Despite the Friday blip, stocks are still much higher than might be expected for such a morose economy. This month, the Dow and the S&P started trading at levels not seen since December 2007, nine months before the fall of Lehman Brothers investment bank. Since the start of June, the Dow has popped nearly 1,200 points.