3-day stock surge...is this a real rebound?

Are stocks a bargain right now?
Are stocks a bargain right now?

It's a bird...it's a plane...it's the stock market!

Stocks have been on fire since Friday. The Dow has gained a whopping 794 points in just the last three days. The Dow's surge has cut losses for this year by almost half.

"There's a good chance we've put in the lows for the quarter," says trader Tim Anderson, managing director of MND Partners.

A mere five days ago, the Dow was down more than 10% for 2016. It was ugly. Nearly all investors were losing money.

The Dow is now off 5.6% for the year. That's still not pretty, but it's not as bad.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq have also jumped. The S&P 500 just put in three straight trading days of over 1.6% gains each day. Any move over a percent is considered substantial.

Related: Warren Buffett is betting big on oil stocks

So is this rebound rally the "real deal"? There are three reasons to it could be.

1. Oil prices are going up. Oil popped over 5% today after Iran said it supported a deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia to freeze production at January levels. That's not the cut back everyone has been waiting for, but it's a start.

Historically, oil didn't have much of an influence on stocks, but lately the market and oil have been in a close tango.

"We trade with oil, not against it in today's world," Anderson says.

Related: Oil rallies over 5% after Iran supports production freeze

2. The U.S. economy is holding firm. Stronger than expected retail sales data on Friday started a chain of good news about the economy. Fears of a recession are ebbing. People are still buying things and homes.

Mortgage applications and homebuilding remained strong in January, according to fresh statistics released on Wednesday. That was another reassurance.

3. The Federal Reserve finally "gets it." Heading into 2016, the Fed was talking about four interest rate hikes this year. Recent statements by Janet Yellen last week and now the release of the January Fed meeting minutes show that the Fed is a lot more cautious now.

Related: Fed sees more 'downside risks' to U.S. economy

The Fed will almost certainly not raise rates at the next policy meeting in March. It gives investors and policymakers time to see how the economy and markets play out this spring.

But here's the bad news. While there's a lot of momentum in the market, the global economy remains weak.

The other damper on this rally is it's hard to sort out how many "real buyers" have been jumping back in versus hedge funds simply scaling back their short-selling (a bet that a stock will fall in value).

An analysis by Bespoke Investment Group found that the stocks that have gained the most in this rally were the ones that had the most investors betting against them only a few days ago. Many hedge funds are pulling back from those gloomy bets -- for now.

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