Even after losing some of its early strength, the broad upward turn in stocks marked a reversal for the market, which started the week on a downbeat note after racking up losses last week as investors’ jitters over a global economic slowdown intensified. That led to a troubling drop in long-term bond yields.
On Tuesday the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.42 per cent from 2.41 per cent late Monday. However, it’s still below the yield on the three-month Treasury bill, which many see as a warning sign of a possible recession.
“A lot of today’s move has to do with the change in direction in the yield curve,” said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA. “It just goes to show that we’re kind of in a period of indecisiveness in the market, where the market is grappling with what is obviously slowing growth around the globe and a little bit of uncertainty here in the US about what growth is going to look like once we get past the seasonally weak first quarter.”
The S&P 500 index gained 20.10 points, or 0.7 per cent , to 2,818.46. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 140.90 points, or 0.6 per cent , to 25,657.73. It briefly climbed 279 points.
The Nasdaq composite added 53.98 points, or 0.7 per cent , to 7,691.52. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 15.30 points, or 1 per cent , to 1,528.17.
Major European indexes finished higher, rebounding from a day earlier.
Even with last week’s stumble, US stocks remain on track to finish the quarter with solid gains at the end of this week. The benchmark S&P 500 index is up more than 12 per cent so far in 2019, an unusually strong start to a year.
Still, uncertainty remains over how the US and China will resolve their costly trade dispute and how a slowing global economy will affect corporate profits as companies begin to report results for the first quarter next month.
“We have a lack of catalysts right now before we get into earnings season,” said Bell. “The market is going to be a little bit erratic until we get clarity on the direction of earnings, the direction of the trade deal, the direction of Brexit, all these major uncertainties out there.”
While concerns about the global economy have held back stocks recently, traders mostly shrugged off two disappointing bellwether reports on the US economy Tuesday.
The Conference Board, a business research group, said its consumer confidence index fell to 124.1 in March from 131.4 in February. And the Commerce Department said the number of homes under construction fell 8.7 per cent last month as ground breakings for single-family houses declined to their lowest level in nearly two years.
The housing starts data weighed on most homebuilder stocks. Beazer Homes USA slid 1.1 per cent .
Bed Bath & Beyond soared 22 per cent in very heavy trading after The Wall Street Journal reported that the troubled retailer is being targeted by activist investors.
Qualcomm climbed 2.4 per cent after a US trade judge recommended banning some iPhones from being imported into the US The judge concluded that Apple’s best- selling device infringed on technology owned by the mobile chipmaker. Apple fell 1 per cent .
Carnival slumped 8.7 per cent after the cruise line operator’s latest quarterly results fell short of Wall Street’s forecasts. The company also issued a weaker- than-expected second-quarter earnings outlook.
Benchmark US crude climbed 1.9 per cent to settle at $US59.94 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 0.3 per cent to close at $US67.97 a barrel.
The pickup in oil prices helped boost energy stocks. Anadarko Petroleum rose 3.1 per cent .
Wholesale gasoline picked up 0.9 per cent to $US1.96 a gallon, heating oil gained 0.5 per cent to $US1.99 a gallon and natural gas fell 0.5 per cent to $US2.74 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold lost 0.6 per cent to $US1,315 an ounce, silver dropped 0.9 per cent to $US15.43 an ounce and copper slipped 0.1 per cent to $US2.85 a pound.
The dollar strengthened to 110.52 yen from 110.06 Japanese yen on Monday. The euro fell to $US1.1278 from $US1.1312.