Wall Street notches best day in 10 years in holiday rebound

Wall Street notches best day in 10 years in holiday rebound
Traders Peter Tuchman, right, slaps a high five before the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. The Dow closed up more than 1,000 points in best day for Wall Street in 10 years as stocks rally back from Christmas Eve beating.(AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

Stocks rocketed on Wednesday in Wall Street's best day in 10 years, snapping a stomach-churning, four-day losing streak and giving some post-Christmas hope to a market that has been battered this December.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up more than 1,000 points — its biggest single-day point gain ever — rising nearly 5 percent as investors returned from a one-day Christmas break.

The broader S&P 500 index also gained 5 percent, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq rose 5.8 percent.

But even with the rally, the market remains on track for its worst December since 1931, during the depths of the Depression, and could finish 2018 with its steepest losses in a decade.

"The real question is: Do we have follow-through for the rest of this week?" said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist for CFRA.

Specialist Jay Woods works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialist Jay Woods works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

Technology companies, health care stocks and banks drove much of the broad rally. Retailers also were big gainers, after a holiday shopping season marked by robust spending. Amazon had its biggest gain in more than a year.

Trader Michael Milano works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Trader Michael Milano works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

Energy stocks also rebounded as the price of U.S. crude oil posted its biggest one-day gain in more than two years.

Trader Steven Kaplan works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Trader Steven Kaplan works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

But what really might have pushed stocks over the top was a signal from Washington that President Donald Trump would not try to oust the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

A headline appears on a television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
A headline appears on a television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

In recent days, Trump's tweet attacks on the Fed and chairman Jerome Powell for raising interest rates stoked fears about the central bank's independence, unnerving the market.

Specialist James Denaro works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialist James Denaro works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

The partial government shutdown that began over the weekend also weighed on the market, as did personnel turmoil inside the Trump administration, trade tensions with China, the slowing global economy and worries that corporate profits are going to slip sooner or later.

University of Wisconsin football Team Captain Alec Ingold, second from right, and University of Miami football Team Captain Jaquan Johnson, right, ring the New York Stock Exchange opening bell, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Their teams will play each other in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which will be played at New York's Yankee Stadium on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
University of Wisconsin football Team Captain Alec Ingold, second from right, and University of Miami football Team Captain Jaquan Johnson, right, ring the New York Stock Exchange opening bell, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Their teams will play each other in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which will be played at New York's Yankee Stadium on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

The Dow lost 1,883 points over the prior four trading sessions and is still down 2,660 for December.

Specialist Vera Liu, left, and trader James Matthews work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialist Vera Liu, left, and trader James Matthews work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

Wednesday's gains pulled the S&P 500 back from the brink of what Wall Street calls a bear market — a 20 percent tumble from an index's peak. Another day of heavy losses would have marked the end of longest bull market for stocks in modern history — a run of nearly 10 years.

Specialist Mario Picone works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialist Mario Picone works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

The S&P is now down 15.8 percent since its all-time high on Sept. 20.

Trader Dudley Devine works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Trader Dudley Devine works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

All told, the S&P 500 rose 116.60 points Wednesday, or 5 percent, to 2,467.70. The Dow soared 1,086.25 points, or 5 percent, to 22,878.45. The Nasdaq gained 361.44 points, or 5.8 percent, to 6,554.36. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 62.89 points, or 5 percent, at 1,329.81.

Specialists work at a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialists work at a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

Trading volume was lighter than usual following the Christmas holiday. Markets in Europe, Australia and Hong Kong were closed.

Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

Among tech stocks, Adobe rose 8.7 percent. Credit card company Visa climbed 7 percent, and Mastercard was up 6.7 percent. Among big retailers, Amazon rose 9.4 percent, Kohl's 10.3 percent and Nordstrom 5.8 percent.

Specialists Peter Mazza, left, and Mario Picone work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialists Peter Mazza, left, and Mario Picone work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Stocks are opening strongly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, with real estate, raw materials and energy stocks leading a broad rebound from Monday's steep losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

Most economists expect growth to slow in 2019, though not by enough to slide into a full-blown recession. Unemployment is at 3.7 percent, the lowest since 1969. Inflation is tame. Pay growth has picked up. Consumers boosted their spending this holiday season.

Trader Frank Masiello smiles as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange before the closing bell, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. The Dow closed up more than 1,000 points in best day for Wall Street in 10 years as stocks rally back from Christmas Eve beating.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Trader Frank Masiello smiles as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange before the closing bell, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. The Dow closed up more than 1,000 points in best day for Wall Street in 10 years as stocks rally back from Christmas Eve beating.(AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

The market apparently got a lift Wednesday when Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the Fed chairman is in no danger of being fired.

Specialist John O''Hara gestures as he looks at the Dow Jones industrial average before the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. The Dow closed up more than 1,000 points in best day for Wall Street in 10 years as stocks rally back from Christmas Eve beating.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialist John O''Hara gestures as he looks at the Dow Jones industrial average before the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. The Dow closed up more than 1,000 points in best day for Wall Street in 10 years as stocks rally back from Christmas Eve beating.(AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Source: Richard Drew)

The president could help restore some stability to the market if he "gives his thumbs a vacation," Stovall said.

"Tweet things that are more constructive in terms of working out an agreement with Democrats and with China. And then just remain silent as it relates to the Fed."

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AP Economics Writer Josh Boak contributed to this story from Washington.