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US stocks are headed for big gains in 2016 despite some early stumbles

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In a year with no shortage of surprises and stomach-churning turns in the market, stock investors can feel pretty good about 2016.

Wall Street repeatedly bounced back from steep slumps, including the worst start to any year for stocks, the second correction for the market in five months and investor fears of a global slowdown. It also weathered plummeting oil prices and the surprising outcomes of Britain's vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's U.S. presidential election win.

A turnaround in company earnings growth, more stable oil prices, a steadily improving U.S. economy and job market all helped keep the market on an upward trajectory.

More recently, investor optimism that the Republican election sweep will usher in a bevy of business-friendly policies spurred the market to new heights.

The news has been well received on social media. 

As of Thursday's close, the Standard & Poor's 500 index, the broadest measure of the stock market, was on track to end the year with a gain of 10 percent after an essentially flat finish in 2015. Including dividends, the total return was 12.5 percent. That means if you invested $1,000 in an S&P 500 index fund at the beginning of the year you'd wind up with $1,125 at the end of the year.

Other major market indexes were also on course to post solid gains. The Dow Jones industrial average was headed for a gain of 13.7 percent.

Few anticipated the kinds of gains for U.S. stocks this year in January, when the market kicked of the year in a deep slump that knocked the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 into a correction, or a drop of 10 percent or more from their recent peaks. For the S&P 500, it was the second correction in five months.

Few investors expected another market correction so soon, and the Federal Reserve's move in December 2015 to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly 10 years signaled to many that the U.S. economy was healthy.

Thankfully for those who don't quite understand the market, things are looking up. 

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(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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