169 Comments By Jessica Menton Updated Dec. 6, 2018 5:17 p.m. ET
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled as much as 785 points Thursday before sharply paring those losses in the final hour of the session, showcasing the volatility that has rocked markets since the start of the fourth quarter.
Major indexes opened modestly lower and continued falling throughout the morning as the arrest of a top Chinese technology executive and a decline in oil prices exacerbated recent concerns about global growth.
But stocks pared their declines after The Wall Street Journal reported Federal Reserve officials are considering whether to signal a new wait-and-see mentality at their meeting in December that could slow down the pace of rate increases next year.
“Today has been one of the craziest trading days of the year,” said Mark Esposito, founder and chief executive of Esposito Securities. “If the Fed eases off raising rates, then the concern about a recession falters and goes away.”
The blue-chip index fell 79.40 points, or 0.3%, to 24947.67, and the S&P 500 lost 4.11 points, or 0.2%, to 2695.95. Both indexes are modestly higher for the year, after briefly sliding back into the red for 2018 earlier in the day.
The Nasdaq Composite added 29.83 points, or 0.4%, to 7188.26, bringing the technology-heavy index’s gains for 2018 to 4.1%.
Fed officials still think the broad direction of short-term interest rates will be higher in 2019, the Journal reported, pointing to recent interviews and public statements. But as they push up their benchmark, they are becoming