percent, to close at 3,129.65.
Despite the bounce, the S&P 500 was unable to move back above 1,500, a closely watched level that was technical support until recently, but could now serve as a resistance point.
The CBOE Volatility Index or the VIX, a barometer of investor anxiety, dropped 11.2 percent, a day after surging 34 percent, its biggest percentage jump since Aug. 18, 2011.
The uncertainty caused by the Italian elections continued to weigh on stocks in Europe. The FTSEurofirst-300 index of top European shares closed down 1.4 percent. The benchmark Italian index tumbled 4.9 percent.
Home Depot gave the biggest boost to the Dow and provided one of the biggest lifts to the S&P 500 after the world's largest home improvement chain reported adjusted earnings and sales that beat expectations.
Macy's shares gained 2.8 percent to $39.59 after the department-store chain stated it expects full-year earnings to be above analysts' forecasts because of strong holiday sales.
Volume was active with about 7.08 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE MKT and Nasdaq, above the daily average of 6.48 billion.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of about 2 to 1, while on the Nasdaq, three stocks rose for every two that fell.