U.S. and European stock markets rose sharply Thursday, rebounding from steep losses the previous day as buyers drew encouragement from a better-than-expected U.S. jobs report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 4 percent, after plummeting almost five percent on Wednesday. Major indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt closed up about three percent Thursday.
Thursday’s closing numbers marked the latest in a series of global markets swings that saw markets plunge on Monday, rebound on Tuesday and slump again on Wednesday.
Analysts say stocks received a boost Thursday from a U.S. government report that said first-time claims for jobless benefits fell to a four-month low in the past week. Many investors interpreted that as good news for the U.S. economy, following an unprecedented downgrade of the U.S. sovereign debt rating last week. That downgrade triggered Monday’s sell-off.
U.S. President Barack Obama said “wild swings” in stock markets were making many Americans nervous and affecting their savings. He attributed the volatility partly to factors beyond U.S. control, such as Europe’s financial turmoil.
Obama also said partisan politics in Washington have hurt the U.S. ability to deal with such challenges.
Thursday’s rally on Wall Street helped European stock markets reverse earlier session declines. Shares of major French banks closed higher after French central bank chief Christian Noyer said the industry is financially solid. Societe General shares rose almost 4 percent, following Wednesday’s nearly 15-percent plunge on rumors that it was in financial trouble.
The bank’s CEO, Frederic Oudea, dismissed the rumors as baseless. French securities regulator AMF warned of penalties for anyone profiting from the spread of what it called “unfounded rumors” about French banks. Many investors had expressed concern about the banks’ exposure to the debt of troubled eurozone economies.
British Treasury chief George Osborne said the global economy is facing its most dangerous time since the 2008 financial crisis. In a speech to the British parliament, he said the recovery from that crisis will take longer and be harder than had been hoped.
Asian markets fell earlier in the day.