Dow up more than 2% in volatile Wall Street session

New York (AFP) –


The Dow jumped more than two percent at midday Wednesday, bouncing from a bruising December rout in a volatile session.

At approximately 1740 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 22,259.66, up 2.2 percent.

The broad-based S&P 500 jumped 2.3 percent to 2,404.82, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index surged 3.0 percent to 6,380.01.

The gains came as retail sales data suggested solid holiday shopping this year. Also, analysts said the market was due for a reversal after four straight routs.

"It's coming off of oversold conditions and it was frankly due for a bounce," said Matt Miskin, market strategist at John Hancock Investments, who said a jump in oil prices also encouraged investors.

A top White House economic advisor was also quoted in US media as saying that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's job was "100 percent" safe.

The comment was the latest reassurance on Powell's position after US media reported over the weekend that President Donald Trump discussed possibly firing Powell over interest rate hikes.

Still, Wednesday's session was not completely placid. After a strong open, both the Dow and S&P 500 briefly dipped into negative territory before recovering and reaching session highs.

Trading volumes were light in a holiday-shortened week, sharpening movements.

"It's a sentiment shift day to day," Miskin told AFP. "It's amazing how fast the sentiment can shift from this really bearish tone to 'maybe things aren't as bad we thought.'"

Data from Mastercard SpendingPulse showed US holiday sales increased 5.1 percent this holiday season to more than $850 billion, the biggest growth in the last six years.

Amazon shares jumped 5.3 percent, while Best Buy, Target and Walmart all climbed about three percent or more.

Petroleum-linked shares also had a good session, with Chevron winning 2.7 percent and Halliburton 3.0 percent as oil prices rallied