NEW YORK — Stocks rallied Tuesday, ending a slump that had ushered in the New Year.
The Standard and Poor’s 500 index climbed the most in three weeks, led by gains for health care stocks. UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, and Johnson & Johnson both climbed on recommendations for brokerage firms.
After three straight declines, the S&P 500 would have matched its worst opening of a year since 1978 had it closed lower for a fourth day. The stock market’s slow start to 2014 contrasts with last year’s exceptional performance, when the S&P 500 climbed to record levels after surging almost 30 percent.
“To me the trend still looks up, even though we’ve been chopping around,” said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management Group. The economy “seems to be in the mode that you would expect corporate earnings to continue to grow.”
The S&P 500 rose 11.11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,837.88, the biggest gain since Dec. 18. Nine of the 10 sectors that make up the index rose.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 105.84 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,530.94 The Nasdaq composite gained 39.50 points, or 1 percent, to 4,153.18.