US Stocks Jump; Oil Falls

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are heading back up and oil prices are easing Wednesday in the latest dizzying swings to hit Wall Street amid uncertainty about the war in Ukraine.

The S&P 500 was 2% higher in early trading, following a four-day losing streak that had pulled it 13% below its record set early this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 636 points, or 2%, at 32,269, as of 9:45 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 2.3% higher.

European stocks rallied even more, with Germany's DAX returning 6.1% and France's CAC 40 up 5.5%.

Such big swings have been jerking markets around in recent weeks as investors grope to guess how much economic damage Russia's invasion of Ukraine will do. The swings have struck not only day-to-day but also hour-to-hour, with some days seeing several big reversals.

The chaotic movements are likely only to continue with uncertainty so high about the war in Ukraine and its ultimate economic fallout. The region is key to investors because it's a major producer of oil, wheat and other commodities, whose prices have spiked on worries about disruptions to supplies.

Analysts said bargain hunters may be giving the market support Wednesday, after worries about higher inflation and a slowing economy triggered its steep recent slide. Many of those buyers appear to be smaller-pocketed, "retail" investors trading on their phones and laptops. And they're often buying shares that big professional investors are selling.

Last week saw record selling of U.S. stocks by hedge funds, strategist Jill Carey Hall wrote in a recent BofA Global Research report. Retail investors and institutional investors were net buyers.

The moves by retail investors may be a result of people worrying about missing out on any potential rebound. A "buy-the-dip" strategy, where drops in stocks were seen mainly as opportunities to buy low, was very successful following the 2020 crash caused by the coronavirus. The S&P 500 kept climbing from that plummet without a 10% drop until just recently.

Big recent moves for markets also show that prices already reflect a lot of pessimism, with crude oil prices up more than 50% so far in 2022. That may be why crude prices actually receded on Tuesday, after President Joe Biden announced a U.S. ban on imports of Russian oil. Such a move will mean disruptions to supplies, but oil traders may already have fully accounted for it when they pushed crude prices up a day before the announcement.

Crude oil prices fell Wednesday, while gold and a measure of nervousness among stock investors on Wall Street also eased. A barrel of U.S. crude oil dropped 5% to $117.47. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 5% to $121.60.

Treasury yields climbed as an anticipated increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve nears. The Fed's policy-making committee is meeting next week, and the wide expectation is that it will vote to raise its benchmark short-term rate by a quarter of a percentage point. It would be the first such increase since 2018.

The Fed is facing a delicate and increasingly tough task as it moves to raise rates through 2022, which tends to slow the economy. The central bank wants to pull them rates enough to push down inflation, which is at its highest level in generations. But it doesn't want to raise them so much that it causes a recession.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.90% from 1.86% late Tuesday.

The value of bitcoin rallied nearly 9% and was back above $42,000 after Biden signed an executive order on government oversight of cryptocurrency. Crypto players have increasingly been saying they welcome increased regulation, and they want to have a hand in shaping it.