The Dow Jones industrial jumped 308 points to close at 13,412 Wednesday, the first trading day of the year. That's the biggest gain the Dow has had since December 2011.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 36 points to 1,462. The Nasdaq composite rose almost 93 points to 3,112.
The gains were broad. Ten stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
Technology and bank stocks had the biggest gains.
Car-sharing company Zipcar surged 48 percent after agreeing to be bought by Avis for nearly $500 million.
Volume was heavier than the recent average at 4.1 billion shares.