Closing Update: U.S. Stocks Finish Back Near Session Highs After Energy, Utility Stocks Pare Earlier Losses

U.S. stocks finished higher Monday, rebounding from their worst two-day drubbing since October amid new speculation Chinese officials may be planning additional stimulus for the country's sagging economy.

Most sectors in the S&P 500 closed with gains, led by shares of technology and consumer staple companies, with mining companies also rebounding today, while energy and utility stocks pared their earlier losses to lift the major market indices back near their session highs after a mid-day slump dragged blue-chips, measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, briefly underwater.

Comments made at the Chinese government's Central Economic Work Conference, released by Xinhua News Agency, indicated that the country's fiscal deficit could be widened and fiscal policy made more forceful as the world's number two economy tries to bolster growth which has slowed in recent months.

All three benchmark indices had opened higher but slumped as oil prices dropped an 11-year low this morning on ballooning supply concerns. A surprise decline for the Chicago Fed National Activity Index today also pressured stocks when the barometer of overall economic activity and inflationary pressure fell to a negative 0.30 reading in November from negative 0.17 in October - the fourth consecutive month the index has remained below zero, a level which is indicative of below-trend growth. Market experts had been expecting the index would rise to a positive 0.15 reading last month.

Crude oil for February delivery settled 25 cents lower at $35.81 per barrel, bouncing back from a $35.35 low, while January natural gas futures jumped 12 cents higher to $1.99 per 1 million BTU. February gold also rose, lifting mining stocks, adding $15.60 to finish at $1,080.60 per ounce while March copper climbed 3 cents to $2.14 per pound.

Here's were the U.S. markets stood at the end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 123.07 (+0.72%) to 17,251.62

S&P 500 up 15.60 (+0.78%) to 2,021.15

Nasdaq Composite Index up 45.84 (+0.93%) to 4,968.92


Hang Seng Index up 0.17%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 1.77%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.29%


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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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