US markets pick up amid global sell-off

Stock market trader Image copyright AFP

US stock markets have begun to recover from a global sell-off, regaining most of their losses in the final hour of trading.

The three major indexes closed between 0.4% and 0.6% lower, having earlier been down over 2% with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both at six-month lows.

The recovery comes after sharp falls in European and Asian markets, with London's FTSE 100 on track for its worst monthly performance in a decade.

Asian stocks also fell overnight.

Analysts said it was hard to pinpoint the global falls on one particular factor.

In Europe, they said the sell-off had been exacerbated by fears over the situation in Italy, which has the second-highest national debt in the eurozone.

The European Commission has told the country to revise its budget, the first time it has ever made such a request.

Meanwhile, there are also fears over the impact on trade of the current situation in Saudi Arabia, where the Kingdom is facing pressure over the death of prominent Saudi critic journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The country is one of the world's largest oil exporters and investors are concerned about the threat of possible sanctions.

ING strategist Benjamin Schroeder blamed "a concoction of concerns" for the falls, saying investors' overall sentiment was suffering from trade tensions, fears over Italy and Brexit.

While Charles Schwab analysts said these general fears were "exacerbating already skittish global sentiment".

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for, said the general tone was "not good". He said it was "hard to say" what was driving the falls, but "the old adage that the market hates uncertainty holds true".

"But it's not all geopolitical noise and fears about rates - some notable earnings announcements have also rocked confidence," he said, noting that disappointing performances from 3M and Caterpillar had hit the Dow's performance.

More on this story