Big swings are coming back to the stock market.
The Dow Jones industrial average surged 175 points Wednesday, the latest triple-digit move over the past week. The Dow has notched just eight moves of 100 points or greater this year, and five of them have occurred since last week.
The market turbulence follows a period of calm in January and most of February.
Here's a look at the market's big moves and what's been driving them.
— Wednesday, Feb. 20: Dow slides 108 points. The drop comes after the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its latest policy meeting revealing discord. The disagreement among policy makers is over how long to continue a bond-buying program that has kept U.S. interest rates ultra-low.
— Friday, Feb. 22: Dow rises 120 points. The gain follows strong earnings reports from Hewlett-Packard, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. and other big companies.
— Monday, Feb. 25: Dow falls 216 points. The slide comes after election returns in Italy indicate that the country is headed for political gridlock, threatening its ability to move ahead with unpopular budget-cutting measures. That renewed investor unease about Europe's debt crisis and the region's ability to keep its 17-nation currency union intact.
— Tuesday, Feb. 26: Dow rises 116 points. Evidence builds that the U.S. housing market is recovering. Home Depot, the leading home improvement store chain, reports earnings that beat Wall Street's forecasts; the government reports that sales of new homes jumped 16 percent last month to the highest level since July 2008.
— Wednesday, Feb. 27: Dow surges 175 points to 14,075, its highest close of the year. It's now just 89 points away from its record high of 14,164 reached in October 2007. The immediate catalysts for Wednesday's gain were more good news on the housing front — a surge in sales of previously occupied homes in January — and a big gain in profits at discount retailer Dollar Tree, diminishing fears that higher payroll taxes would make shoppers more tight-fisted.
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