Buyers have returned to Wall Street after two days of heavy losses as investors, while mindful of the economy's growing problems, are looking for beaten-down stocks.
Stocks closed at their high of the session in light trading as investors showed relief that a bad report on unemployment wasn't worse. The market briefly came off its highs after President-elect Obama reiterated that there is a great deal of hard work to be done to restore the economy to health.
The Dow Jones industrials are up 248, or 2.9 percent, at the 8,943 level. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.9 percent, while the Nasdaq composite index gained 2.4 percent.
Analysts said the advance, which also came amid dour third-quarter reports from Ford and General Motors, was to be expected as Wall Street experiences a rocky recovery from October's devastating selling.
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Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Investments noted that the market was able to climb last week in the face of downbeat economic data, so the rebound on Friday didn't come as a surprise.
"I think it's absolutely part of the bottoming process," Smith said. "The Oct. 10 low has been tested again a number of times." The blue chips hit an intraday low of 7,882.51 on Oct. 10.
The indexes are still showing heavy losses for the week after a 10 percent decline over Wednesday and Thursday.