Energy, banks lead Wall Street rebound after grueling week

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street staged a modest comeback on Friday, led by a rebound in financial and energy stocks, after a punishing, widespread rout this week on concerns about the health of the global economy, and ahead of the long weekend.

Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 2.28 per cent rise in the financial sector. The sector had slumped 17.7 per cent this year, excluding Friday's gains.

Banks stocks, which were the worst hit due to concerns about the impact of negative interest rates and a energy-backed loan defaults, were the top gainers, led by JPMorgan's 5.1 per cent gain.

Six of the top ten gainers on the S&P 500 were financials, led by banks.

Prices of U.S. crude, which has been in a tailspin for more than a year, soared nearly 7 per cent on Friday after the United Arab Emirates' energy minister said OPEC was willing to talk about cutting production. "Oil continues to be the main driver of the markets. It's the fear factor of oil continuing to move lower and its impact on oil debt around the world," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York. "The market will probably be led by short covering,"Cardillo added. The U.S. market is closed on Monday for President's day.

Positive consumer spending data also helped boost sentiment.

U.S. consumer spending regained its mojo in January as households ramped up purchases, in a hopeful sign that economic growth was picking up after slowing to a crawl at the end of 2015.

At 9:38 a.m. ET (10.38 pm Singapore time), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 109.17 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 15,769.35 The S&P 500 was up 15.85 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 1,844.93.

The Nasdaq Composite index was up 34.72 points, or 0.81 per cent, at 4,301.56.

JPMorgan jumped 5.1 per cent to US$55.87 after CEO Jamie Dimon bought more than US$25 million of the bank's stock.

Activision Blizzard dropped 5.4 per cent to US$28.84 after the videogame maker reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,316 to 420. On the Nasdaq, 1,741 issues rose and 481 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 1 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 2 new highs and 24 new lows.