US stocks pared losses in late afternoon trading on Wednesday, led by a bounceback in energy shares as U.S. oil prices settled more than 5 percent higher.
The S&P energy index was down 0.7 percent after having fallen more than 2 percent earlier. Oil prices rebounded late, with U.S. crude oil settling up 5.6 percent and Brent futures extending gains.
Stocks were still on track for a fourth day of losses, however, after a World Bank forecast sparked concerns about global economic growth and U.S. retail sales for December came in weaker than expected.
The S&P 500 briefly broke below its 120-day moving average, a technical support level, and hit a new low for the year at 1,988.44. S&P e-minis also broke support and hit an intraday low for the year.
S&P 500 materials and financial sectors were the day’s worst performers. Copper, a key industrial metal, touched its lowest level since July 2009, weighing on shares of producers, after the World Bank cut its growth forecasts for this year and next.
At 2:39 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average fell 225.73 points, or 1.28 percent, to 17,387.95, the S&P 500 lost 18.27 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,004.76, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 32.66 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,628.84.
The S&P 500 index is now down more than 4 percent from the record high reached on Dec. 29, and the year so far has been marked by increased volatility.
“It’s a multitude of factors, but on top of the list global growth has been and will continue to decelerate into 2015, which will have further implications for the oil and commodities markets,” said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Shares of copper producer Freeport McMoRan Inc tumbled for a second day. Shares were down 13.1 percent to $18.28 and the stock was the S&P 500’s biggest percentage decliner.
A large trade in the options on the S&P 500’s tracking ETF suggested positioning for a further decline in the market within the next week and a half.
A trader paid $1.23 a contract for 43,830 SPY puts at the $195 strike price, which corresponds to the 1,950 level on the S&P 500.
“The investor would benefit from a higher premium should global equity prices continue their wobble in the coming days,” Andrew Wilkinson, chief market analyst at Interactive Brokers LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut, wrote in a research note.
U.S. consumer spending in December disappointed, with retail sales registering their biggest drop in 11 months. The S&P retail index fell 1.5 percent.
JPMorgan Chase & Co, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, was off 5.5 percent after reporting a 6.6 percent drop in quarterly profit. Wells Fargo & Co shed 2.3 percent after posting quarterly results.