NEW YORK -- Stocks rose sharply in shaky U.S. trading today, with the Dow industrials up almost 180 points.
Wall Street found encouragement in corporate profitability pronouncements that overcame fears surrounding global economic strife and unease over the fate of the Clinton administration on a day when a prosecutor's report outlined possible grounds for impeachment in graphic detail.
The Dow Jones industrial average leaped 179.96 points, or by 2.4 percent, to close at 7,795.50. It was the ninth-largest point gain ever.
Trading that was heavy, with 817.7 million shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, but below Thursday's 875.7 million.
Wall Street's gains interrupted a worldwide selling spree, helping to cut losses in late trading on European markets but coming too late to ease the pain in Asian exchanges. Tokyo's blue-chip stocks had their biggest loss of the year.
Today's rally was anything but smooth sailing.
The Dow, down 248.48 points Thursday, was off an additional 96.30 in the early going, then shot up to a gain of 117.40, before giving up some of that ground. By late afternoon it was charging higher again, rising as much as 201.33 in the final hour before fading somewhat heading into the weekend.
The average of 30 big-name stocks got help from a surge by American Express, which said it has not been hit hard by worldwide market turmoil and was sticking with its earnings targets.
The Dow's slide Thursday, on top of a 155.76-point drop Wednesday, more than wiped out Tuesday's record gain of 380.53 points. But today's rebound left the Dow up 155.25 points for the holiday-shortened week. That snapped a precipitous slide of 893.40 points, or 10.5 percent, over the previous two weeks.
But the Dow still was 16.5 percent below the July 17 record of 9,337.97 and 1.4 percent below where it began the year.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq index recorded its fourth-biggest point gain ever, helped by encouraging earnings statements after markets closed Thursday from Intel Corp. and Oracle Corp.
Markets continued to be unsettled by economic problems that now are plaguing Latin American financial markets after roiling Russia and Asia.
There was some encouragement, however, as Brazilian shares rose today after the government raised interest rates sharply. Trading on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange, Latin America's largest, was halted twice in Thursday's frenzied session, when shares plummeted 15.8 percent.
In addition, Russia was moving to resolve some of the political problems that have prevented the country from bailing out its economy. The parliament overwhelmingly confirmed the appointment of Yevgeny Primakov as prime minister.
The unease worldwide has led to a buying binge for U.S. Treasury bonds, a traditional haven for cash in times of unrest. There were new sharp gains for government bonds early in the day, as global stock markets were being battered, but those gains disappeared as U.S. stocks recovered.
Stocks already were falling outside the United States as Wall Street's trading day began but regained most of the lost ground in late trading as U.S. shares began rising this morning.
On the London Stock Exchange, Europe's biggest market, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100-share index closed with a loss of 0.4 percent after being down 1.8 percent at midday.
Many European investors were staying out of the market, figuring much of the information might come out after London had finished trading for the day.
"I don't know if people will be brave enough to do anything today," said Peter Caulkett, a stock salesman at the brokerage Teather and Greenwood. "No one knows what will be in Starr's report."
Key market indexes were off by 0.2 percent in Frankfurt, Germany, and down 0.3 percent Paris, both well above the day's lows.
The damage was heavier on big Asian markets, which had closed before trading began in New York.
Tokyo's 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average plummeted 749.05 points, or 5.12 percent, to close at 13,916.98. It was the largest one-day point fall this year. The finish was just barely above the Nikkei's 12-year closing low of 13,915.63 set on Aug. 28.
Hong Kong's blue-chip Hang Seng Index fell 3.5 percent, while shares in Singapore fell, sending the Straits Times Index down 1.3 percent.
The recent decline by the U.S. dollar also sent shudders through foreign markets, where analysts worried their corporations could be hurt by more competitively priced exports from America.
"Unfortunately, what's good or bad for the U.S. is good or bad for Asia" and the rest of the world, said Eugene Chung, Asia strategist at Warburg Dillon Read (HK) Ltd., in Hong Kong.
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