Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., January 26, 2022.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., January 26, 2022. Reuters / BRENDAN MCDERMID

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 advanced in volatile afternoon trading on Thursday, with the Nasdaq up nearly 2% after U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled harsh new sanctions against Russia after Moscow launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine.

He is imposing measures to impede Russia's ability to do business in the world's major currencies, along with sanctions against banks and state-owned enterprises.

Indexes were already coming off their lows of the session before Biden's comments. News of Russia's invasion of Ukraine had sparked a selloff at the open.

The information technology sector gave the S&P 500 its biggest boost in a reversal of Wednesday's action.

"There was a knee-jerk reaction overnight to the invasion by Russia into Ukraine, but the situation is still developing," said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at Ally Financial in New York.

"Obviously we're not out of the woods yet, and we have several weeks of volatility in front of us," she said, adding, "the beaten-up parts of the market aren't leading the market lower today, which is a good sign."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 282.93 points, or 0.85%, to 32,848.83, the S&P 500 gained 8.64 points, or 0.20%, to 4,234.14 and the Nasdaq Composite added 232.64 points, or 1.78%, to 13,270.13.

The Dow remains down more than 10% from its record close on Jan. 4, putting it on track to confirm a correction - or a decline of 10% or more - from its all-time closing peak.

Ukrainian forces battled Russian invaders on three sides on Thursday after Moscow mounted an assault by land, sea and air in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.51-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.02-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 2 new 52-week highs and 64 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 17 new highs and 969 new lows.