This story was updated at 4 p.m. EDT
U.S. stocks closed sharply higher Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average soaring nearly 300 points, rebounding a day after Wall Street recorded its worst start to September in 13 years. Investors sifted through a series of economic reports that showed U.S. productivity bounced back this spring to its strongest pace in more than a year. Meanwhile, private sector job creation slightly missed expectations in August.
Stocks continued to rally higher in afternoon trading after a report showed economic activity continued to expand across most U.S. regions and sectors during July to mid-August, the U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday. Economists got a glimpse into the health of the overall economy after the central bank released its Beige Book, which provides a snapshot of economic conditions in the central bank's 12 districts.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gained 293 points, or 1.8 percent, to close at 16,352. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 35 points, or 1.8 percent, to end at 1,949. And the Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) added 114 points, or 2.5 percent, to finish at 4,750.
Nine of the 10 S&P 500 sectors closed higher, led by gains in information technology stocks. The biggest laggard was utilities, down 0.5 percent.
Technology also led the Dow higher, with iPhone maker Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) adding more than 3 percent.
Energy stocks closed higher after falling more than 1 percent in morning trading after U.S. oil prices briefly fell below $45 a barrel.
Oil prices dropped Wednesday morning after data showed stockpiles increased more than expected last week. U.S. commercial crude inventories rose by 4.7 million barrels in the previous week, compared with analysts' expectations for a buildup of just 32,000 barrels, the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday.
However, U.S. crude turned positive in afternoon trading, closing up above $46 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, rose 2 percent to $46.25 per barrel for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On the London ICE Futures Exchange, Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil prices, rose 2 percent to $51.
U.S. productivity, or the output of goods and services per hour worked, advanced at its strongest pace in the April-June quarter since the fourth quarter of 2013. The productivity of nonfarm workers rose at a 3.3 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate in the second quarter, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
Separately, U.S. private sector employment rose by 190,000 jobs in August, below analysts’ expectations of 201,000 new positions, the ADP employment report showed Wednesday. However, the number was higher than July's downward-revised 177,000 jobs.
The economic indicator is widely used as a pre-indicator for the U.S. labor market ahead of Friday's highly anticipated jobs report.
Asia saw another volatile trading session Wednesday, with China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite closing down 0.4 percent, after falling as much as 4.6 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 index pared gains to close flat, down 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, European markets traded mostly flat, with the pan-European STOXX 600 up 0.3 percent in afternoon trading, while London's FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent. Germany's DAX and France's CAC added 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Wall Street bounced back after ending in correction territory a day earlier. All three major indexes closed down nearly 3 percent in their third-largest daily loss in 2015.