(CNN) — Stock market volatility works in both directions. A day after gaining more than 1,000 points, the Dow is set to plunge.
Dow futures pointed to a drop of more than 350 points at the open Thursday. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were both set to fall 1.5%.
Wednesday’s super-sized gain was a much-needed breather for a market that is having its worst December since the Great Depression. The Dow had its best point gain ever, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted their best performances since March 2009.
But one day is not a trend. Anyone watching stocks this month knows that sentiment can turn on a dime — the Dow was up nearly 400 points Friday before closing more than 400 points in the red. Jittery investors trying to read the tea leaves have seen bad omens practically everywhere over the past few weeks — even good news has rattled the markets at times.
The Dow has either gained or lost more than 350 points in seven of the past eight trading sessions. Thursday would make eight of nine. Those huge gains and (mostly) losses suggest investors remain on edge about the economy, monetary policy, trade and Washington dysfunction.
Wednesday’s big winners became Thursday’s big losers.
GE had its fifth-best day of the year Wednesday but fell 2% Thursday morning.
Oil, which rose 9% a day ago, was down 1.5% Thursday morning.
But Newmont Mining Corp (NEM), the only stock in the S&P 500 that fell Wednesday, was up nearly 1% Thursday before the bell. Newmont has been trading in opposite directions with the broader market in recent days. It was the S&P 500’s biggest gainer on Monday, when the Dow fell 650 points. That’s because gold prices rise when investors are fearful — gold was up about 1% again Thursday.
Global stocks caught in the tumult
European markets fell sharply on their first day of trading since Monday. The FTSE was down 1% and Germany’s DAX fell 2%.