TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2015:
U.S. stocks closed lower on Monday, the last day of trade for August, as investors digested a volatile month amid continued uncertainty about China and the Fed. The major averages ended Friday with gains for the week with historic intra-week reversals. However, they posted August losses of more than 6 percent each, their worst month in at least three years. The DJIA closed about 115 points lower after earlier falling as much as 198.96 points. The index ended less than 0.10 percent away from correction (trading at 16,516.22 or below) after dipping in and out on an intraday basis. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite remained out of correction.
The major averages briefly more than halved losses in midday trade as oil prices surged for a third day in a row. "Oil has helped us come off the lows," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. He also noted some support for investor sentiment from greater consensus in Fed policymaker comments and solid U.S. GDP figures last week.
The energy sector turned positive in midday trade, briefly rising more than 1 percent, to lead S&P 500 gains after earlier losing more than 2 percent.
Oil reversed an early decline to settle up 8.8 percent at $49.20 a barrel, more than wiping out August losses of nearly 20 percent and posting its best three-day rally since the three days ending Aug. 6, 1990. The gains came on news the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries noted concerns about low oil prices in its publication issued Monday.
Brent crude also jumped about 6.5 percent to briefly trade above $53.70 a barrel.
European stocks closed mildly lower. The London exchange was closed for a holiday.
"I think the market's been pretty focused on China and investors have a pretty good idea of where China stands. So I think the worst is out there," said Maris Ogg, president of Tower Bridge Advisors.
Phillips 66 jumped about 2.4 percent after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway disclosed late Friday a $4.48 billion, or roughly 10.8 percent, stake in the oil refiner.
The U.S. dollar traded a touch lower against major world currencies, with the euro above $1.12 and the yen near 121 yen against the greenback.
The S&P 500 closed down 16.69 points, or 0.84 percent, at 1,972.18, with health care leading nine sectors lower and energy the only advancing sector. In late-morning trade, index component Signet Jewelers hit an all-time high, while Sempra Energy and Exelon hit fresh 52-week lows. All 10 sectors posted losses of 3 percent or more for the month, with health care the worst performer, off 8 percent. The index lost 6.26 percent for the month, its worst since May 2012. The Nasdaq closed down 51.82 points, or 1.07 percent, at 51.82. The index is the only major average up for the year so far but lost 6.86 percent for the month, its worst since May 2012.
About three stocks declined for every two advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 1.1 billion and a composite volume of about nearly 3.9 billion in the close. Gold futures settled down $1.50 at $1,132.50 an ounce.