When a Random 400-Point Spike Is Par for the Course

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Important question: Are Brazilian traders hotter?
Important question: Are Brazilian traders hotter? Photo: Getty Images

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up 400 points to 8,979 in the last hour of trading today, after a day of wild swings and uneven news. On the bright side for consumers, indicators showed that inflation is relatively under control and the price of oil was down. Google reported that its third-quarter profits were up 26 percent, and action on the bond market was promising. Henry Paulson also announced that he would begin focusing on limiting home foreclosures.

But big industrial leaders showed signs of long-term strain. Southwest Airlines posted their first quarterly loss in seventeen years, GM announced a massive staff cut, and Citigroup reported a $2.8 billion drop in its own quarterly report. The decline in oil prices, which has been welcomed by American consumers, threw OPEC into a panic — they'll have an emergency meeting next week over the stability of the energy market. And despite our domestic bump, markets in Europe and Asia experienced declines.

Speaking of which, did you hear the one about the only trader who's sleeping like a baby this month? He wakes up every hour and cries!*

This Time, Stocks Surge in Last Hour [NYT]

*We Googled stock-market jokes and this is the best we could come up with. Apparently it's true — the economy right now: not even a little bit funny.