Asia stocks jump on biggest U.S. rally since 2009

Specialist Meric Greenbaum works the floor Friday at the New York Stock Exchange

Specialist Meric Greenbaum works the floor Friday at the New York Stock Exchange. Associated Press Richard Drew

The Dow Jones Industrial Average.DJI was up 196.31 points, or 0.90 percent, at 21,988.51 and the Nasdaq Composite.IXICwas up 98.42 points, or 1.59 percent, at 6,291.34.

The market's sharp downturn since October intensified this month, erasing all of its 2018 gains and nudging the S&P 500 closer to its worst year since 2008.

Financial markets in Australia, Hong Kong were closed for a public holiday, along with bourses in London, Paris and Frankfurt.

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

Elsewhere, WTI crude oil prices gave up a slice of the more than 8 percent gain from the previous day.

The S&P 500 hit a peak of 2930.75 on September 20, but before Wednesday, it was off 19.8 per cent from that high point, and needed to close down just seven more points to be in bear territory.

Investors and nervous retirees face a harrowing few hours today when the Australian sharemarket starts trading for the first time since a Christmas bloodbath wiped out the critically important American and Japanese markets.

All told, the S&P 500 index rose 116.60 points, or 5 per cent, to 2,467.70.

"Yes, of course, 100 percent", said Hassett, the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, when asked by reporters at the White House if Powell's job is safe.

After markets tanked on Christmas Eve, Trump said Tuesday that he remains confident in Mnuchin, but he renewed his criticism of the Fed, accusing it of hiking rates too fast.

For those traders searching for a short-term bottom, Wednesday's action was mostly encouraging. Overall, U.S. consumers spent over $850 billion this holiday season, according to Mastercard.

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.

After Monday's Wall Street losses, Asian markets followed.

As investments of all types dropped this year, investor psychology underwent a reset. Both were down about 1.5 per cent around 6:30 a.m. (ET) clawing back some of the losses seen earlier in the morning.

Much will hinge on how resilient the USA economy remains in 2019.

Oil prices were a bright spot, with the U.S. benchmark oil price up by 10 per cent to $46.79 a barrel and the global benchmark price, Brent crude, increasing 9 per cent to $55.14. The soaring share prices of technology companies - especially the so-called Faang companies, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google - helped push stock markets to new highs. Marathon Petroleum rose 1.9 percent to $55.36.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 index rebounded 3.9 per cent to 20,077.62.

The partial USA government shutdown that started Saturday is unlikely to hurt the economy much, although it may deprive the financial markets of data about worldwide trade and gross domestic product. South Korean shares tumbled after a holiday, and Shanghai stocks fell for a second day.

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