Dow Surges 400 Points

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After flirting with a new record loss on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average continued its topsy-turvy pace Thursday, gaining more than 400 points at the end of a day that saw triple-digit swings in gains and losses.

The Dow finished the day at 8,979.26, up 401.35 points. But during the day the index swung in an 816-point range as mixed news about the economy continued to add to the turmoil—the Dow surged 480 points just in the last 90 minutes of trading.

Investors started shifting their focus toward more defensive sectors like healthcare and economic reports out Thursday showed some flashes of hope—inflation appears to be in check—and continued gloom—factory activity fell dramatically and the housing market remained severely depressed. .

Cable stocks showed modest gains, with Comcast up $1.13 cents each (7.9%) to $15.36 and Cablevision Systems up 30 cents (1.8%) to $16.71 per share. Charter Communications gained 7 cents (22.6%) to 38 cents each; Time Warner Cable was up 38 cents (1.9%) to $20.10 and Mediacom Communications gained 44 cents (11.8%) to $4.18 per share.

The small gains were a welcome relief following Wednesday's selloff, when the sector was down in the double digits as the Dow flirted with breaking its single-day point loss record (minus 777 points) with a 733-point loss for the day.

Satellite stocks also clawed back from Wednesday’s losses, with Dish Network up 57 cents (3.9%) to $15.02 per share and DirecTV Group up $1.55 per share (7.9%) to $21.10 each.

On the programming side, News Corp., rose 55 cents each (6.2%) to $9.36 per share, Viacom was up 5 cents (0.26%) to $19; Time Warner Inc rose 22 cents (2.4%) to $9.60 and Walt Disney Co. was up 90 cents (3.9%) to $24.27 per share.

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