Stocks posted gains in the last trading session of the year, but this two-day rally will do little to erase the indices' dismal record in 2008, MarketWatch reports. Amid light trading volume ahead of New Year's Day, the Dow gained 108 points to close at 8,776. The Nasdaq closed up 26.33 points at 1,577, and the S&P 500 rose 12.61 points to settle at 903.
The gains may be representative of early bargain-hunting, but "it doesn't take a lot to move stocks around in this environment," noted a Cantor Fitzgerald strategist. Weekly unemployment claims fell unexpectedly, but the Labor Department said seasonal volatility was probably the reason. The Dow has fallen 33% in 2008, while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 lost 40% of their value over the year.