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Stocks shake off slide with late-afternoon rally

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A headline appeared on a television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped about 300 points early today, a day after notching its biggest-ever point gain, as the market endures a bout of volatility to end what has been a topsy-turvy year.

Stocks mounted a swift turnaround on Wall Street today after a late-afternoon rally erased the steep losses from earlier in the day.

The reversal pulled the Dow Jones Industrial Average from a 611-point loss, placing it on track to extend gains from a day earlier, when the market had its best day in 10 years. The S&P 500 also showed a slight increase just before the closing bell.

Gains in materials stocks, banks and health care companies outweighed losses in retailers and other sectors.

Volatility has been the norm this month. The market remains on track for its worst December since 1931, during the depths of the Depression, and could finish 2018 with its biggest losses in a decade. Even with Wednesday’s big gains, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are all down more than 11 percent for the month.

“The last two days are really demonstrable of what the market is struggling with,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager of Globalt Investments. “It’s looking for a bottom. It’s looking for a reason to gain a little more confidence. And it’s also looking for opportunities to reposition and lessen risk.”

The partial government shutdown that began over the weekend has weighed on the market. Investors have also been unnerved by the personnel turmoil inside the Trump administration, trade tensions with China, the slowing global economy and worries that corporate profits are going to slip sooner or later.

The S&P 500 index rose 6 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,474 as of 3:49 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow gained 107 points, or 0.5 percent, to 22,986. Both indexes rose about 5 percent Wednesday, when the Dow had its biggest-ever single-day point gain.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 8 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,545. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 18 points, or 1.4 percent, 1,311.

Bonds prices rose, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury down to 2.76 percent from 2.79 percent late Wednesday.

Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 3.5 percent to settle at $44.61 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 4.2 percent to $52.16 a barrel in London.

The dollar fell to 110.74 yen from 111.36 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1449 from $1.1351.

Gold edged up 0.6 percent to $1,281.10 an ounce and silver gained 1.2 percent to $15.31 an ounce. Copper fell 1.2 percent to $2.67 a pound.

Major indexes in Europe closed lower.

In European markets, where trading resumed after a Christmas holiday break, the German DAX slid 2.4 percent, while France’s CAC 40 gave up 0.6 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 1.5 percent.

In Asian markets, the Nikkei 225 index rebounded 3.9 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi was little changed. The Hang Seng index fell 0.7 percent and Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 jumped 1.9 percent. Stocks climbed in Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia.

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