* Fed minutes reassure investors
* Homebuilder shares rise
* December private payrolls higher than expected
* Indexes up: Dow 1.2 pct, S&P 1.2 pct, Nasdaq 1.3 pct (Updates to close)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Jan 7 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rebounded on Wednesday from five straight sessions of losses after strong private sector jobs data and as minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting reassured investors the bank was in no hurry to start raising interest rates.
The S&P 500 rose 1.2 percent, its biggest daily percentage gain in about two weeks, retracing some of its 4.2 percent loss over the previous five sessions tied to concerns over plunging oil prices and global economic weakness.
According to minutes of the Fed's December meeting, the central bank pressed ahead with plans to begin raising interest rates later this year, though Fed officials said they could be "patient" in deciding when to begin the process.
"The U.S. continues to be the strongest region in the globe right now, and I think markets are comforted that rates aren't going to be going up anytime soon," said Bob Landry, portfolio manager at USAA Investment Management Co in San Antonio, Texas.
Stocks began the day in positive territory after data showed U.S. private employers added more jobs last month than expected. The news came ahead of Friday's more widely watched U.S. non-farm payrolls report for December.
Adding to the upbeat tone, some investors are betting the first negative inflation in the euro zone since 2009 will trigger a long-awaited move from the European Central Bank to begin to print money.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 212.88 points, or 1.23 percent, to 17,584.52, the S&P 500 gained 23.29 points, or 1.16 percent, to 2,025.9 and the Nasdaq Composite added 57.73 points, or 1.26 percent, to 4,650.47.
Retailer shares jumped. J.C. Penney shares surged 20.3 percent to $7.89, a day after the department store operator said same-store sales rose 3.7 percent in November and December.
December same-store sales figures are due this week from more than 60 companies. The S&P retail index gained 2.1 percent.
Shares of Dick's Sporting Goods Inc jumped 11.7 percent to $55.01. People familiar with the matter said the company is holding early-stage conversations with a handful of buyout firms about going private.
Housing shares were also among the day's biggest gainers, up 2.3 percent. Bloomberg reported U.S. President Barack Obama was set to announce a reduction of Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance premiums. Shares of D.R. Horton rose 5.1 percent to $25.35.
Biotech shares also bounced back, with the Nasdaq Biotech Index jumping 3.6 percent after falling 1.7 percent in the previous session.
About 7.1 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 6.2 billion average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.
NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 2,355 to 737, for a 3.20-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,858 issues rose and 876 fell, for a 2.12-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 posted 29 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 50 new highs and 65 new lows.
Additional reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Nick Zieminski