Stocks around the world remained stuck in the spin cycle Thursday, as worries about a possible recession collided with hopes that the strongest part of the U.S. economy – shoppers spending at stores and online – can keep going.
The major U.S. stock indexes spent most of the day wavering between gains and losses. They turned mostly higher by late afternoon after a sharp slide in bond yields eased.
The market was coming off a steep loss from a day earlier, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its worst day of the year after a fairly reliable warning signal of recession emerged.
Stocks in Asia and Europe paved the way for the turbulent day on Wall Street early Thursday after China said it would take “necessary countermeasures” if President Donald Trump follows through on a threat to impose tariffs on more than $100 billion of Chinese goods on Sept. 1.
The U.S. bond market, which has been among the loudest and earliest to cry out warnings about the economy, also continued to show concern as yields fell.
“What you’re seeing really is what’s been driving the market the last couple of weeks: Trade tensions as well as yield curve stress,” said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA.
The S&P 500 was up 0.2%, as of 3:25 p.m. It has swung between a 0.6% gain and 0.5% loss.
The Dow gained 78 points, or 0.3% to 25,561. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.1%.
Markets around the world have jerked up and down for weeks. Prices for everything from stocks to gold to oil have been heaving as investors flail from one moment of uncertainty around Trump’s trade war to another around what central banks will do with interest rates.