Back to Rally Mode: Dow Surges 423 Amid Easing Economic, Euro Tensions

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

The blue chips posted one of their best point gains of all time on the heels of a 520 point rout as euro zone and global  economic concerns appeared to ease in the financial markets.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 423 points, or 3.9%, to 11,143, the S&P 500 jumped 51.9 points, or 4.6%, to 1,173 and Nasdaq Composite rose 111.6 points, or 4.7%, to 2,493.

The financial sector, which had been beaten down in prior sessions posted the most gains on Thursday.  Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) were among the top performers.  Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) posted an increase in its current-quarter revenue forecast, softening uncertainty over the networking-giant's business.  Shares jumped more than 15%, providing a boost to the blue chips.

All but 12 S&P 500 components closed in the green as traders took advantage of buying opportunities created by the steep selloff on Wednesday.

"The market has discounted a whole lot of negative news," David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise, told FOX Business. "I think stocks are cheap here."

Weekly jobless claims fell to 395,000 from 402,000 in the prior week, slightly better than expectations of 400,000.  The U.S. trade deficit hit $53.1 billion in June, wider than the $48 billion economists forecast.  The bigger the trade gap, the more it shaves from broader measures of economic output, meaning a wider deficit could be a hindrance on growth.

The euro zone debt crisis, and European banks, were once again in focus on Thursday morning.

A report on Thursday morning by Reuters, citing sources, that an Asian bank had cut credit lines to major French banks hit traders' confidence. However, Dow Jones reported later in the day, also citing banking sources, that the banks were performing a review, but hadn't yet made any cuts, softening the concerns.

Indeed, major European indices pared steep losses and staged a strong comeback rally.

Even with Thursday's data, the economy has been a major subject of concern among market participants as many indicators have pointed to weakness across several sectors.  An only modestly-positive monthly employment report last week, and free-falling stock prices have weighed heavily on sentiment.

"Of the many economic developments over the past month, the steep decline in stock prices has been perhaps the most worrying," economists at Goldman Sachs wrote in a note to clients.

"Equity values are a key component of US financial conditions and the recent decline therefore points to softer growth ahead."

Volatility has been extraordinarily high in the past several trading sessions.  Indeed, the blue chips have posted gains and losses of more than 400 points for the last four days for the first time in history.

The benchmark S&P 500 index has shed more than 13% so far in August, but still remains up 2.8% over the last year.

Traders let go of super-safe assets on Thursday as they once again tested the waters in equities markets.  Gold, which has leaped more than 25% this year, fell $32.80, or 1.8%, to $1,752 a troy ounce.

Energy prices have made a steep retreat in August ended sharply higher on Thursday.  Meanwhile, in currencies, the euro jumped 0.5% against the U.S. dollar, and the greenback fell 0.18% against a basket of world currencies.

Light, sweet crude soared $2.83, or 3.4%, to $85.72 a barrel.  Wholesale RBOB gasoline gained 4 cent, or 1.6%, to $2.83 a gallon.

Foreign Markets

The English FTSE 100 climbed 3.1% to 5,163, the French CAC 40 rose 2.9% to 3,090 and German DAX gained 3.2% to 5,798.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 sank 0.63% to 8,982 and the Chinese Hang Seng tumbled 0.95% to 19,595.