Stock Markets Wrap Up Volatile Week on a Soft Note; Cryptocurrencies Turn Green

U.S. stocks drifted between gains and losses on Friday, as traders closed the book on one of the most volatile weeks in recent memory. Cryptocurrencies regained their footing following a series of sharp declines with Ethereum, bitcoin cash and EOS posting double-digit gains.

Thin Trading

The S&P 500 Index traded climbed by as much as 1.3% on Friday before reversing gains in afternoon trading. The large-cap average closed down 0.1% at 2,485.74, with losses mostly concentrated in energy and materials stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 76.42 points, or 0.3%, to finish at 23,062.40. The blue-chip index gained nearly 1,400 points on Wednesday and Thursday combined.

Meanwhile, the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 0.1% to 6,584.52.

Trading volumes were well below the norm, which is highly characteristic of holiday trading. As Bloomberg reports, volumes drifted 13% below the 30-day average.

Volatile Week

Stocks are capping off one of the most volatile weeks in recent memory and certainly one of the most tumultuous during the holidays. Markets sold off at the beginning of the week, pushing the major indexes further into bear-market territory. On Boxing Day, stocks rose at least 5%, with the Dow posting its biggest single-day point gain on record.

Of course, the extreme selling on Monday was merely an extension of a selloff that originated at the start of the fourth quarter. After a record-breaking Q3, the S&P 500 is down nearly 15%.

Extreme moves have been reflected in the CBOE Volatility Index, which tracks the market’s expected volatility over the next 30 days. VIX peaked at 36.07 on Monday, the highest since February. It has since fallen back below 30 but remains well above the historic mean.

Crypto Rally Gathers Pace

Cryptocurrency prices rallied sharply on Friday, as capital flooded the market after multiple sessions in the red.

Bitcoin jumped 7.4% to $3,943, as trade volumes surged past $5.6 billion. XRP, the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, also rose 7.4% to $0.3756.

Ethereum surged 15.1% to $135.88, bringing its total market cap to $14.1 billion. That’s roughly $1.2 billion shy of XRP. Read more: Ethereum (ETH) Closes Distance on XRP with 18.5% Growth Spurt.

Litecoin rose 14.5% to $32.55. Bitcoin cash and EOS each rose more than 13%.

Dollar-backed USDT held steady at $1.03 but saw its market ranking fall all the way back down to eighth based on total market cap.

At the time of writing, the combined crypto market cap was worth $132.4 billion, having gained $11 billion compared with Thursday. Trade volumes picked up to $18.5 billion from $15.8 billion during the previous session.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi