WSJ - Markets

Stocks Show Signs of Steadying

U.S. stocks wobbled between gains and losses on Tuesday as beaten-down health shares rebounded.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 47 points, or 0.3%, to 16049. The S&P 500 added 0.1% while the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.6%.

Health-care stocks pulled ahead, bouncing back from steep losses in the last week. Health stocks in the S&P 500 gained 0.9%.

“People are trying to do a little shopping,” said Michael Antonelli, equity sales trader at brokerage firm Robert W. Baird. “We are seeing good buy orders on our desk.”

Global stock markets have been sliding in recent sessions because of renewed worries over slowing growth and questions over the Federal Reserve’s plan for raising interest rates. In Europe, troubles at Glencore as well as an emissions scandal at Volkswagen AG VLKAY -2.59 % have added to investor unease.

Benjamin Mandel, executive director at the multiasset solutions group at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, which oversees $ 170 billion, said his team has been whittling down exposure to stocks this year in favor of fixed-income assets.

“You just don’t want to be captive to these knee-jerk reactions and the spillover from emerging markets,” Mr. Mandel said. “We continue to be circumspect about equities.”

European shares fell. The Stoxx Europe 600 lost 0.7%. The DAX in Germany fell 0.35%.

Demand for ultrasafe government debt rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.05% from 2.093% on Monday as prices rose.

Shares of IHS Inc. rose 5% after the information and analytics provider said profits in its latest quarter rose 26%.

Later this week, investors will get an update on the U.S. job market, which could give guidance on the Fed’s timeline for rate increases. The report, due Friday, is expected to show 200,000 jobs were added in September. The unemployment rate is expected to remain at 5.1%.

Data released Monday showing that China’s industrial profits suffered their biggest drop since October 2011 in August sparked fresh worries over future demand for commodities from the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s September reading on manufacturing activity on Thursday will provide new evidence on the economic health of the country.

Asian stocks fell sharply. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average shed more than 4%, erasing all gains for the year. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 2%.

“Individual events are building up on a very negative picture for confidence. When markets are in a fragile mood, everything is bad news,” said Michael Stanes, investment director at Heartwood Investment Management, which oversees about $ 3.5 billion in assets.

In currency markets, the euro nearly flat against the dollar at $ 1.1232.

In commodities, U.S.-traded crude oil rose 2.7% to $ 45.63 a barrel. Gold fell 0.5% to $ 1,126.60 a troy ounce.

Write to Dan Strumpf at Markets

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