The Dow Notches Its Best September in 71 Years


The stock market's September to remember ended with moderate losses Thursday as traders engaged in a little end-of-quarter profit-taking despite some encouraging economic news. Still, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) recorded its best September in more than 70 years, which is historically a tough month for the market.

Stocks started Thursday's session with gains, helped by a drop in weekly initial jobless claims, as well as better readings on second-quarter gross domestic product and regional manufacturing.

The economy made some modest progress on the labor front last week, as the number of new jobless claims filed fell 16,000 to 453,000, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday, while economists on average expected claims to come in at 459,000. A better-than-expected revised reading on second-quarter GDP and a surprise jump in the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index also conspired to give equities and early lift.

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But the end of the quarter prompted investors to book profits after stocks' torrid September. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 48 points, or 0.4%, to close at 10,788. The broader S&P 500 ($INX) declined 4 points, or 0.3%, to 1,141. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) shed 8 points, or 0.3%, to settle at 2,369.

Bonds rose Thursday as the yield on the benchmark 10-Year Treasury note rose to 2.52% from 2.41% Wednesday. (Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.) The dollar strengthened as the ICE U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the buck against a a basket of currencies, edged higher Thursday. Gold slipped 70 cents to settle at $1,309.60 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYX), while oil rose $2.09 to $79.95 a barrel.

As for equities, the Dow rebounded from its worst August in nearly a decade to climb 7.7% in September, the best such showing for the blue chips in the month since 1939. The S&P 500 rose 8.8% , while the Nasdaq gained 12% on the month.

For the quarter, stocks had their best showing since the third quarter of 2009 with the Dow and the S&P 500 gaining 10% and 11%, respectively. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, rose more than 12%. The year-to-date figures are hardly as robust, however, with the Dow and S&P 500 up just 3.5% and 2.3%, respectively. The Nasdaq has added 4.4% in 2010 so far.