The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended slightly up after swinging to a loss over news that the global economy would grow more slowly than expected. Investors managed to keep the Dow in green by 3.66 points to 17,515.23, or 0.02 percent.
The broad-based S&P 500 followed a similar pattern, gaining a slight 3.13 points to 2,022.55, up 0.15 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 20.46 points, to 4,654.85.
Ten-year Treasury notes fell 2.56 percent to 1.79 percent as investors leaned into the safety of U.S. debt, which drives down the return on the investment. Investors are concerned over deflation in Europe, which can lead to a hard-to-fix cycle of falling prices and demand that can slow the economy, leading to job losses and further economic contraction.
“The big elephant in the room is deflation, and many portfolio managers are beginning to adjust their models to work in a low-interest-rate environment,” Marty Leclerc, chief investment officer of Barrack Yard Advisors, told Marketwatch. “That adjustment period spells volatility.”
The European Central Bank could announce on Thursday a series of bond buying similar to the one the United States recently ended, known as quantitative easing. The unconventional monetary policy involves a central bank buying assets from commercial banks after low interest rates fail to produce the desire economic results. The move pumps cash into the economy and combats deflation, but also increases a country’s debt.
The day started with mixed news from China that its 2015 gross domestic product growth would slow to 7.4 percent, from 7.7 percent last year, which came a day after the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecast for 2015 from 3.7 percent to 3.5 percent, in part because of low oil prices adversely impacting oil-producing countries.
Markets remain skittish as they have since the start of the year, as investors follow developments in Europe and Asia. Markets were buoyed in part by Tuesday’s monthly report from the National Association of Home Builders, which showed a decline of one point, to 57. Readings above 50 signal confidence in the new-homes market. The measure remains near a nine-year high on steady economic growth and increased U.S. consumer confidence.