U.S. stocks finished the first day of trading in 2019 on a positive note, with all the major stock indexes ending the day in positive territory.
The gains came after stocks began the day with losses following a tough day for stocks in Asia and Europe. Worse than expected economic data out of China appeared to spook many investors. At it’s lowest, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off by 398 points.
Stocks turned around midday after data on U.S. manufacturing showed continued expansion, in contrast to China’s manufacturing contraction.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day slightly in positive territory, up 18 points or 0.08 percent. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.46 percent. The S&P 500 climbed by 0.13 percent. The Russell 2000, which tracks smaller public companies, ticked up by 0.18 percent.
The gains were not large and far from large enough to reverse the losses suffered by investors in December. But they appeared to confirm the notion of a Santa Claus rally, bringing the gains t0 the S&P since Christmas to better than 5 percent.
President Donald Trump may have given stocks a boost with his comments on Wednesday. The President described the December decline in stocks as a “glitch” and predicted stocks would rise once a trade deals are completed. That appeared to cheer investors and imply that a resolution in the U.S.-China trade dispute may not be far off.
Energy stocks were some of the best performers, rising alongside oil prices. The U.S. is now a large oil producer and drilling operations in the U.S. are responsible for employing a significant number of U.S. workers and for significant levels of capital spending. So a rise in the price of oil from very low levels seen at the end of 2018 may be a boon to the economy even if it costs some U.S. consumers and businesses more to fuel cars and trucks.