U.S. shares recover after downturn; gold rallies

Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:28pm EDT
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By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. shares recovered from five-week lows on Wednesday following a downturn on concerns over potential delays to President Donald Trump's pro-growth policies, while European shares ended lower and safe-haven gold, U.S. Treasuries, and the yen rallied on those worries.

The benchmark U.S. S&P 500 stock index notched its first gain in five sessions after briefly hitting its lowest since Feb. 15. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares hit a roughly two-week low, however, as investors increasingly worried whether Trump would be able to push ahead with pro-growth policies.

Trump on Tuesday tried to rally Republican lawmakers behind a plan to dismantle Obamacare, his first major legislation since assuming office in January. Some investors fear that if the healthcare reform act runs into trouble or takes longer than expected to pass, then Trump's tax reform policies may face setbacks.

The slight gains in the S&P 500 came after the index closed down 1.2 percent on Tuesday in its worst daily performance since Oct. 11. CBOE's VIX index , known as the "fear gauge," briefly topped 13 for the first time since mid-January on Wednesday.

U.S. and European shares were little affected by a deadly attack in London near the British parliament.

"Investors with a lot of cash used yesterday's downturn and the morning’s weakness today as a buying opportunity," said Alan Lancz, president of investment advisory firm Alan B. Lancz & Associates in Toledo, Ohio. He said, however, that U.S. stocks could slip again if Trump's healthcare bill fails to progress.

MSCI's all-country world equity index .MIWD00000PUS was last down 1.04 points, or 0.23 percent, at 447.01.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI closed down 6.71 points, or 0.03 percent, at 20,661.3. The S&P 500 .SPX ended up 4.43 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,348.45. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 27.82 points, or 0.48 percent, to 5,821.64.   Continued...

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., March 22, 2017.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson