(Updates close with energy ETF performance)
* S&P 500 back above 1,900
* Crude oil up; energy sector leads rally
* JPMorgan up after Q4 results beat; financials gain
* Indexes up: Dow 1.4 pct, S&P 1.7 pct, Nasdaq 2 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
Jan 14 (Reuters) - A rally in battered energy shares led U.S. stocks to rebound on Thursday, while financials rose after upbeat results from JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The S&P 500 registered its biggest daily percentage gain since Dec. 4 and ended back above 1,900 in the heaviest volume day so far this year.
Though the market finished off its highs for the day, analysts said some investors see a bottom in energy shares, which were among the most heavily sold shares in the market’s rout that began at the start of the year.
The S&P energy sector shot up 4.5 percent, its best percentage gain since late August.
Shares of Exxon Mobil surged 4.6 percent, also the biggest percentage gain since late August, to $79.12, while Chevron jumped 5.1 percent to $85.47, among the biggest boosts to the Dow and the S&P 500. U.S. and Brent oil prices ended more than 2 percent higher. The SPDR Energy Select Sector exchange-traded fund rose 4.3 percent.
Also rebounding were biotechs, with the Nasdaq Biotech Index ending up 4.0 percent.
“You have had people trying to pick a bottom both in the energy commodity itself and energy shares a few times in this long slide down and again today,” said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
He said exchange-traded funds may have bought energy stocks, forcing short-sellers to cover positions.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 227.64 points, or 1.41 percent, to 16,379.05, the S&P 500 gained 31.56 points, or 1.67 percent, to 1,921.84 and the Nasdaq Composite ended up 88.94 points, or 1.97 percent, to 4,615.00.
The S&P 500 remains down 9.8 percent from its May 21, 2015, record closing high, however, and analysts said plenty of caution remains, thanks to lingering concerns about demand for oil and a slowdown in the global economy.
Traders noted the S&P 500 has fallen 10 percent from near a 52-week high for the second time in a relatively short time, while rallying 10 percent in between. That’s only happened on four other dates - in 1929, in May and October of 2000, and in 2008, “not particularly good years for the bulls,” wrote Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS.
Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Company in Atlanta, does not see stocks headed for a bear market and said upbeat earnings reports from tech and other companies could put the market on stronger footing.
JPMorgan rose 1.5 percent to $58.20 on better-than-expected results. Citigroup, Wells Fargo , Morgan Stanley and Bank of America also rose.
After the bell, however, shares of Intel fell 4.7 percent to $31.20 as its results showed a profit that beat expectations but slowing growth in its data center business.
During the regular session, Chipotle was up 6.1 percent at $454.30 as the company expressed confidence in preventing future food poisoning outbreaks at its chains.
About 10.0 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7.5 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,079 to 1,005, for a 2.07-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,961 issues rose and 899 fell for a 2.18-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted one new 52-week high and 115 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded six new highs and 439 new lows. (Editing by Nick Zieminski, James Dalgleish and Chris Reese)