Wall Street enjoys upbeat start to 2009

NEW YORK — Wall Street started the new year with a big rally Friday, as investors, brushing aside a disappointing report on manufacturing, sent the Dow Jones industrials to their first close above 9,000 in two months. All the major indexes shot up more than six percent for the week.

The Dow rose 258.30, or 2.94 percent, to 9,034.69, finishing the week up 6.1 percent.

It happened despite the Institute for Supply Management saying its manufacturing activity index fell to the lowest level in 28 years in December. But the market held to its recent pattern of taking bad economic news in stride.

"Over the last month you've started to see a change in sentiment and this certainly advances that," said Carl Beck, partner at Harris Financial Group in Richmond, Va.

During past recessions, the market has recovered ahead of the economy by growing numb to a stream of poor data and looking for signs that the downturn isn't worsening.

Wall Street's move higher also comes amid light trading after the New Year's holiday. Modest volume can lend buoyancy to the market as upbeat buyers have reason to come out and those with less conviction stay home.

The final session of the week follows a terrible year for investors. The Dow fell 33.8 percent in 2008, its worst performance since 1931.

"We like to see the markets shrug off the bad news," said Eric Thorne, an investment adviser at Bryn Mawr Trust. "That typically is a sign that we're forming a bottom."