How major U.S. stock indexes fared Monday

US stocks end dismal, volatile year on a bright note

Despite Monday's rally, which was sparked by signs of progress in trade talks between the USA and China, the S&P 500 still posted its biggest December decline since 1931 and narrowly dodged its first bear market since 2009 on its way to its worst annual performance since the financial crisis.

Following solid gains throughout the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 265.06 points, or 1.15 percent, to 23327.46 on Monday.

Shares of Netflix and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a U.S. biotech firm, extended gains of 4.52 and 3 percent respectively, leading the advances. The S&P 500, the broadest measure of stocks, lost 9 percent and the Dow over 8.5 percent.

The S&P 500 was up or down more than 1% nine times in December alone, compared to eight times in all of 2017. The S&P 500 closed at 2,506.85 for a gain of 21.11 points or 0.85%.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 3 new highs and 61 new lows.

Stocks also got a boost in early December when the USA and China agreed to a truce on trade, but then plunged when it was unclear what exactly both sides had agreed upon.

The draft legislation includes a series of terms aimed at improving investment environment and providing legal protection for overseas investors operating in China. On top of that, a partial government shutdown appeared set to head into 2019, as President Donald Trump fights to secure finance for a U.S. -Mexico border wall-a demand that has been a sticking point in negotiations for an extension of government financing.

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Previously, the Fed signalled that it would slow the tightening pace on December 19, as it revised the times of rate hikes in 2019 lower to two.

The S&P 500 ended marginally lower in a choppy session on Dec. 28, but major indexes posted weekly gains for the first time in December following a wild few days of trading that saw equities rebound from a prolonged slide.

Most Asian markets likewise lost ground in 2018.

In corporate news, Tesla Inc. shares jumped 5.6 percent after the electric carmaker named Oracle Larry Ellison to its board, in response to a demand by USA regulators for independent oversight of company management. On Monday, the two-year Treasury yield also reported its largest monthly decrease in 10 years, which could further help the outlook for stocks. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals rose 2.3 per cent to $370.99. Meanwhile, the official Xinhua News Agency cited a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that "China stands ready to work with the United States to move forward the China-U.S. ties which are underpinned by co-ordination, co-operation and stability". Brent crude, the benchmark for global prices, gained 0.3 per cent to $53.39 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.69 yen from 110.41 yen on Friday.

Gold slipped 0.1 per cent to $1,281.30 an ounce and silver gained 0.7 per cent to $15.54 an ounce.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline slipped 0.2 per cent to $1.32 a gallon. The Nasdaq rose 74 points, or 1.1 percent, to 6,658. Natural gas plunged 11 per cent to $2.94 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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