Is this a bear market rally or the beginning of the recovery? Expect to hear a lot more people asking that question after the S&P 500's massive surge today. The 3.4 percent gain erased all of this year's losses and pushed the index to 907, just above where it was all the way back on Jan. 2.
Led by bank stocks and fueled by better-than-expected housing data and optimism that the government's stress test results won't uncover any truly catastrophic news, today's surge puts the S&P some 32.8 percent above its low for the year of 676, reached on March 9. Time to get excited? Maybe not. Business Insider points out that the average bear market rally in the years following the 1929 crash produced similar gains that would later evaporate as it became clear that the economy wasn't improving as much as investors hoped.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 214 points, or 2.6 percent, to end the day at 8,427, its highest close since mid-January. For more on stocks making moves today, be sure to check out BloggingStocks' market wrap-up.