Stocks have best day since start of year

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After a rocky start to the week, U.S. stocks roared back on Thursday, giving major stock indexes their biggest gain of the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 index each closed up 1.2 percent, their largest single-day increase since Dec. 18.

The rally helped the market rebound a day after a modest loss and continued a gradual comeback since a plunge of more than 2 percent on Monday.

"The market was very oversold going into the day’s trading," said Jim Russell, senior equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 188.30 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 15,628.53. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 21.79 points, also 1.2 percent, to 1,773.43. Both indexes were still down about half a percent for the week following a steep drop on Monday.

Thursday’s surge began overseas, where the European Central Bank decided not to cut interest rates. The move propelled major European stock indexes sharply higher.

Then the markets got a dose of good news on the U.S. job market. The Labor Department reported that fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week.


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