USA stocks head sharply lower a day after Dow's record gain

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 1,000 points - its biggest point-gain ever - rising almost 5 percent as investors returned from a holiday break. For example, stocks were up almost 400 points on Friday but ended the day down more than 400 points.

The day marked the biggest percentage gain for all three indices since March 2009.

Retailers gained, with the S&P 500 retailers sub-index.SPXRT jumping 1.75 percent, after a Mastercard report showed US holiday sales were the strongest in six years.

The political impasse over the funding bill and the recent unexpected departure of the USA defense chief have added to investor worries that include U.S. Even with the rally, the major stock indexes remain sharply lower for December and down for the full year with only two trading sessions remaining.

The Nasdaq is already in a bear market. In percentage terms, that's a gain of almost 5 percent. But even with that gain, it is still down 7.4 percent on the year. "I suspect there may be less human being trades selling stocks here, than there are just mindless computer-driven trades following the latest trend".

The S&P 500 is up 51.08 points, or 2.1 per cent.

"The market is extremely oversold where we left it" on Monday, said Brett Ewing, chief market strategist at First Franklin Financial Services in Tallahassee, Florida. "You can not make the assumption that this correction is over, but today's action is definitely a very positive signal".

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The S&P 500 .SPX was up 9.05 points, or 0.38 percent, at 2,360.15 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 67.39 points, or 1.09 percent, at 6,260.30.

The previous record point gain for the Dow was 936.42 on October 13, 2008, during a period when markets were whipsawed nearly daily by developments in the financial crisis, which was then in full swing.

Energy stocks were close behind, led by Marathon Oil (MRO), which surged 11.9% Wednesday. Inc (AMZN.O) rose 2.22 percent after reporting a "record-breaking" season.

"The move you see is just everybody trying to get out of these super, super bearish positions that they have been in, that have been easy to make money in". The Dow has dropped 1 percent or more in eight of the 17 trading sessions. Still, Pan said, "one would likely flinch to call this a bottom yet", leaving a "mixed picture as we head into the end of the year".

Indeed, S&P 500 futures weakened modestly when trading resumed later on Wednesday to kick off the overnight session. It's looking for a reason to gain a little more confidence.

A partial government shutdown, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's questions about banks' health and signals that President Donald Trump could fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell upset markets on Monday, sending the Dow down 653 points.

The most recent decline in stocks followed the Fed's policy meeting last week when the United States central bank raised interest rates again, and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell did not soften his tone about the outlook for further financial tightening to the degree investors had hoped. "I think it is to buy a great opportunity".