US stocks gained ground on Wednesday after a two-day slide, on news the government is shoring up life insurers and optimism about consumer spending.
The US Treasury said life insurers, whose capital base has been eroded by falling markets, have met requirements for government funds.
The news lifted shares of insurance companies, including Prudential Financial, which was up nearly 8%.
The Nasdaq surged nearly 2% on hopes that a recovery in business spending will boost tech profits, and after Bed Bath & Beyond jumped 24.3% to $US31.70 on sales that were not as bad as feared in the last quarter.
But in the latest sign of the economic downturn's impact, Moody's Investors Service stripped Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway of its top rating of Aaa after the closing bell, citing the recession and the severe decline in stocks.
The Dow Jones industrial average added 47.55 points, or 0.61%, to 7,837.11. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 9.61 points, or 1.18%, to 825.16. The Nasdaq Composite Index shot up 29.05 points, or 1.86%, to 1,590.66.