US stocks staged a solid rally on Tuesday as Wall Street attempted to shake off a loss-filled October, while European bourses were pressured by weak economic data and political uncertainty over Italy and Germany.
Major US indices were in positive territory virtually the entire session but the market experienced a couple of waves of weakness that briefly pushed the Nasdaq into the red and also significantly cut the gains of the other two major indices.
But Wall Street ended firmly higher, bolstered by a report from the Conference Board that rated US consumer confidence at a new 18-year high in October.
"Volatility has returned because investors have a lot of questions," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer of Cornerstone Wealth Management. "The market is trying to guess when the economic expansion might end."
Key unknowns dogging investors include the effect of rising US interest rates, the fallout from US-China trade tensions, and the impact on corporate earnings if the economy slows, or is hit with a recession.
"Investors are really trying to build a picture of what this long-term outlook is," said Kate Warne, a principal at Edward Jones. "They are not certain how much they should revised their estimates."
US stocks have been in retreat most of October, with the S&P 500 finishing Monday's session down more than nine percent for the month and below the year-end level in 2017.
But the broad-based index climbed 1.6 percent to end at 2,682.63, edging back into positive territory for 2018.
Frankfurt, Paris and Milan all ended lower, while the euro extended losses one day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not seek re-election in 2021.
"Sentiment in Europe is poor as dealers are fearful about the potential political fight between the Italian government and the EU. Adding to that, the growth rate in the eurozone disappointed," said market analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK.
The pace of eurozone economic expansion slowed significantly in the third quarter, official data showed, hit by Italian fiscal woes and faltering German car output.
Gross domestic product in the 19-country single currency area rose by just 0.2 percent from July to September, the Eurostat agency said.
That compared with 0.4 percent growth in the preceding quarter and analyst forecasts, which were also for 0.4 percent.
- Key figures around 2030 GMT -
New York - Dow: UP 1.8 percent at 24,874.64 (close)
New York - S&P 500: UP 1.6 percent at 2,682.63 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: UP 1.6 percent at 7,161.65 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,035.85 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.4 percent at 11,287.39 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 4,978.53 (close)
Milan - FTSE MIB: DOWN 0.2 percent at 18,998.80 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,147.13 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.5 percent at 21,457.29 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.9 percent at 24,585.53 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.0 percent at 2,568.05 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1346 from $1.1373 at 2100 GMT on Monday
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2708 from $1.2793
Dollar/yen: UP at 112.97 from 112.37 yen
Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN $1.43 at $75.91 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 86 cents at $66.18 per barrel