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S&P 500 erases early plunge and rises to cap frenetic week

Traders work on the floor at the closing

Traders work on the floor at the closing bell at the NYSE on Thursday, March 1, 2018, in Manhattan. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Bryan R. Smith

Stocks went on another dizzying ride Friday and worked their way back from an early-morning plunge to send the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its first gain in four days.

It was just the latest swing in a frenetic week for markets around the world as investors recalibrated — again and again — how worried to be about a possible trade war and a more aggressive Federal Reserve.

When U.S. markets opened for trading, the S&P 500 lost as much as 1.1 percent to join a worldwide sell-off after President Donald Trump doubled down on “trade war” talk. He took to Twitter to defend his promise from Thursday to impose stiff tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, saying that the United States is losing on trade with virtually every country and that “trade wars are good” and “easy to win.”

The S&P 500 trimmed its loss as the day went on and was bouncing between gains and losses by the early afternoon. It ended at 2,691.25, up 13.58 points, or 0.5 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 70.92, or 0.3 percent, to 24,538.06, and the Nasdaq composite rose 77.31, or 1.1 percent, to 7,257.87.

Stocks pared their losses as investors questioned how far Trump will end up going, said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management.

“I view nearly every one of Trump’s actions through a negotiation lens,” he said. “I would imagine that we will see some horse trading going on.”

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