Wall Street recovers from Evergrande-led rout as defensives rise

(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes rose on Tuesday, recovering from a selloff a day earlier, as investors weighed the risk of contagion from troubles at debt-saddled developer China Evergrande, while awaiting the outcome of a Federal Reserve policy meeting.

FILE PHOTO: The front facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York, U.S., February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Healthcare and real estate, seen as defensive sectors in a volatile market, were the top performers.

The Nasdaq rose the most among the three main indexes on gains in major technology stocks, which have become a de facto defensive space due to their resilience through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, traded just below four-month highs hit in the prior session.

Concerns over Evergrande acted as a boiling point for markets trading near record highs, amid coronavirus concerns and sluggish economic growth. All three major indexes were hammered on Monday.

“As the market has marched higher, there’s always a concern over ‘when is the music going to stop?’ … there are more than several issues that created a confluence, that may have been the match that lit the fuse (on Monday),” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

Investor focus on Wednesday will be on the results of the Fed’s policy meeting, where the central bank is expected to lay the groundwork to ease its stimulus, although the consensus is for an actual announcement to be delayed until the November or December meetings.

Taper fears have already roiled markets so far in September, and, along with seasonally weak trends, have set the S&P 500 on course to snap a seven-month winning streak.

“It comes down to how (tapering) is presented … ultimately we’re going to get some measures in place to temper inflation concerns. The market is already nervous, and if they say they’re going to taper, it’s going to create some near-term angst,” Bakhos added.

At 11:59 am the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 145.85 points, or 0.43% , to 34,116.32, the S&P 500 gained 17.64 points, or 0.40 %, to 4,375.37 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 96.45 points, or 0.66 %, to 14,810.35.

The S&P 500 index traded substantially below its 50-day moving average, its first major breach in more than six months. The average has served as a floor of sorts for the index this year.

While the S&P 500’s 100-day moving average had served as a support level on Monday, analysts say a breach of the index’s 200-day moving average is now in sight.

Among other movers, energy stocks rose 0.3% as oil prices gained on signs of tight U.S. supply due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. [O/R]

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.7-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a about a 1.6-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and three new lows while the Nasdaq recorded 45 new highs and 79 new lows.

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