The Russell 2000 and transports turned positive as stocks came off lows in the last half hour before the close. S&P 400 midcaps also traded higher, and the Nasdaq traded briefly in the green.
“The Russell 2000 led the selloff and is actually the first to find the bottom here,” Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, said.
He also attributed the late-session gains to stabilization in oil prices and high trade volume during the middle of the day.
Financials led declines on the S&P and traded more than 2% lower, while JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs were among the greatest blue-chip decliners. Prior to the start of trading Bank of America posted asmaller-than-expected loss, while BlackRock reported better-than-expected earnings.
Stocks held to a downward trend after the Fed released its “Beige Book”that said the economy is growing at a “modest to moderate” pace.
In the hour before the close, Wal-Mart fell more than 3% on news that the retailer cut its growth guidance.
Just before 2 p.m. ET, volume on the New York Stock Exchange matched “normal” volume for the entire session—3.5 billion shares.
“It’s significant because people are truly unloading their positions,” JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade, said. “Once we broke that 200-day moving average [people said] let’s get out and start over.”