U.S. markets rebound as global trade roller coaster accelerates

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Reports Wednesday that the United States might hold off on auto tariffs sent shares of Ford, General Motors, Tesla and Daimler higher. (Richard Drew/AP) Thomas Heath Local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and companies in the Washington metropolitan area May 15 at 1:44 PM

Volatility reigned Wednesday on Wall Street as poor Chinese economic data parried reports that President Trump would postpone tariffs on automobiles.

The Dow Jones industrial average reversed a 160-point slide after the auto reports surfaced midmorning. Within minutes, the Dow was pointing upward and was treading around 100 points in the black, or 0.38 percent, in early afternoon.

Walmart, Verizon and Walgreens Boots Alliance were big drags on the Dow. Visa, Microsoft and Dow Inc., were among the big gainers.

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and tech-packed Nasdaq composite index also were on the upswing as investors weighed news from Asia, the tense Persian Gulf and the minute-by-minute roller coaster of Trump trade policy. The S&P was up a half of a percent and the Nasdaq had climbed nearly 1 percent.

The volatility follows a relatively placid, months-long advance for stocks, which saw the three major U.S. indexes push to double-digit gains. The major indexes are 4 to 5 percent off their highs, but year-to-date gains are strong. The S&P 500 is up more than 13 percent this year. The Dow and Nasdaq have climbed 10 and nearly 18 percent, respectively.

The good feeling ended the first week of May, after trade negotiations, which were thought to be on the cusp of a successful conclusion, began to deteriorate. On Friday

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