Contrarians should have seen it coming.

They woke up this morning to find a front page story in The Wall Street Journal explaining that the stock market's rally has run out of steam because individual investors aren't willing to get back into the market.

So naturally, once everyone understands why stocks aren't going up, they go up. And they go up aggressively--today's charge gave Wall Street it's biggest one-day gain since before Thanksgiving.

Some market watchers said what happened today was simply a standard bounce-back. After a series of losses, markets often rebound because traders figure prices have fallen enough that there are bargains to be had.

The other possible motivators today were recommendations by two major firms that European investors ought to be moving back into U.S. stocks. Lehman Bothers Inc. and Goldman, Sachs & Co. both said prospects for profit growth are better for U.S. corporations than for their counterparts in Europe.

Today's gains were broadly distributed, with a large number of stocks posting moderate gains that produced similar gains for all three familiar measures of the market

The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index both gained ore than 2 percent today and the Nasdaq composite index grew nearly 3 percent.

The Dow gained 194 points to 8,627.54.

The S&P rose 21 points to 910.41.

The Nasdaq was up nearly 38 points at 1,400.33.

Oil company stocks were particularly strong, rising in parallel with crude oil prices, which jumped about 2 percent, hitting their highest level in eight weeks. Oil prices have been trending up because of worries about war in the Middle East, but today it was political instability in Venezuela that spooked the market.