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US stocks gain more in rebound, Dow +3.4%

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New York (AFP)

Wall Street stocks rallied on Wednesday afternoon, shaking off four straight routs following strong retail sales data and White House reassurances that Fed Chair Jay Powell won't be fired.

Near 2030 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 22,539.84, up around 750 points or 3.4 percent in a rebound that analysts attributed in part to technical factors after days of selling.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 3.5 percent to 2,432.51, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index surged 4.3 percent to 6,461.83.

"It's coming off of oversold conditions and it was frankly due for a bounce," said Matt Miskin, market strategist at John Hancock Investments.

"Sentiment can be fickle in times like these, so it's important to not get whipsawed."

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.

White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett sought to reassure on Powell's prospects, telling ABC News the Fed chief is "100 percent" safe. The remarks followed weekend media reports that US President Donald Trump has discussed firing Powell.

Some analysts argue that the stock market's weakness in December has been disproportionate to economic conditions at a time when unemployment is low and growth is still solid.

Yet many investors have been unnerved by a variety of factors, including the partial US government shutdown, the US-China trade war and Trump's ongoing criticism of Powell.

The sense of bearishness among investors is "just huge," said Karl Haeling of LBBW.

Retailers were especially strong, with Amazon soaring 7.8 percent after declaring that its notched new records in holiday sales, fueled by "tens of millions" of new subscriptions or free trials of its Prime service.

Other retailers also advanced, with Best Buy winning 6.2 percent, Target 4.8 percent and Walmart 4.2 percent.

Petroleum-linked shares also had a good session, with Chevron winning 4.8 percent and Halliburton 3.8 percent as US oil prices jumped the most in a session in more than two years.

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