U.S. stocks erased a steep drop in afternoon trading, while Treasuries and crude ended little changed as investors remained cautious before a report on the American labor market.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rallied back from a drop of more than 1 percent to post a third day of gains. The advance added to an end-of-quarter rally that trimmed its worst performance in four years. Crude surged more than 4 percent only to settle near where it began. Treasury 10-year rates touched a five-week low before reversing in the final hour of the session.
Investors remained cautious before Friday's U.S. jobs report, expected to show the economy added 200,000 jobs last month, as the reading will factor into the Fed's next rate decision, due Oct. 28. The central bank is also weighing whether recent financial-market turmoil, which it cited as a reason for standing pat, has abated enough to warrant tightening. The selloff last quarter affected risk assets from emerging markets to oil and metals, while havens from Treasuries to the yen strengthened.
Global equities are trying to rebound from the steepest quarterly slide since September 2011, sparked by concern that the slowdown in China would hamper global growth at the same time the Fed moved toward its first interest-rate increase since 2006. Commodities got an early boost from Chinese data showing a stabilization in manufacturing, before a reading on American output raised concern about the strength of economic growth.
The S&P 500 added 0.2 percent at 4 p.m. in New York after rallying 1.9 percent yesterday. That advance began Tuesday after the index slid withing five points of its Aug. 25 low. The three days of gains are the most since Aug. 28.
The advance Thursday doesn't necessarily signal all-clear. Almost 35 percent of the gauge's members have slipped back below their price from that nadir. The heavyweights are doing all the lifting: Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. -- the three largest companies by market cap -- account for nearly one-fifth of the gains since the market bottomed.