Stocks surged in a last-minute rally on Wednesday as investors snapped up shares beaten down by worries over deteriorating credit conditions.
Major stock gauges zigzagged wildly throughout the session. The Dow swung between positive and negative dozens of times and the S&P 500 changed direction even more frequently.
In the final minutes of trading, the Dow turned positive in a 180-point burst higher -- the mirror image of Tuesday's last-minute swoon by the blue chips.
Shares of United Technologies, which have fallen 3 per cent since last Thursday's stock market slide, rose 2.3 per cent and led the Dow higher.
"People have been nervous and when you have these tough markets, you get rallies like this, which are breath-taking," said Bobby Harrington, head of block origination at UBS in Stamford. Connecticut. "I'm still not sure we're out of the woods completely yet, but the bulls won today."
The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 150.38 points, or 1.14 per cent, to end at 13,362.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 10.54 points, or 0.72 per cent, to finish at 1,465.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 7.60 points, or 0.30 per cent, at 2,553.87.
In the last few minutes, several events collided as market participants sold off US Treasury bonds, while in futures trading, investors covered short positions set up earlier in the day on bets the market would continue to fall.
"You really had a flight to quality. A lot of stocks that were crushed pared their losses and the flight to quality went right into the blue chips," said John Buckingham, chief investment officer at Al Frank Asset Management, in Laguna Beach, California.
Utilities, known for consistent returns and high dividends that are attractive in times of volatility, were the S&P 500's top performers. An S&P index of utilities' stocks rose 2.71 per cent.