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Wall Street stocks rally at close after day of big swings; oil falls

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. benchmark S&P 500 stock index closed more than 1.0 percent higher after a sharply volatile session on Tuesday, recovering from the biggest one-day decline in the index in more than six years on Monday.

Wall Street stock indexes repeatedly swung from positive to negative territory during Tuesday's session while the Dow Jones Industrial Average had a more than 1,100-point difference between its intraday high and low.

The Dow posted a 2.3 percent increase, its biggest daily percentage gain since Jan. 29, 2016, while the S&P 500 rose 1.7 percent, its biggest one-day gain since Nov. 7, 2016, the day before the election of Donald Trump as president.

Some analysts view the recent selloff, which began last Friday amid concerns over higher interest rates and lofty valuations, as a healthy pullback after a rapid run-up to record highs at the start of the year.

They argue that the improving global economic outlook is a positive for stocks overall, but they said it could take some time before the market settles down.

"You'll probably see a little bit of this volatility - my gut feeling tells me - probably for another couple of days, and then things will calm down somewhat," said Peter Costa, president of Empire Executions in New York.

Monday's slump in U.S. stocks was a break from many months of relative steady gains and left market participants grappling with an implosion of products that bet against volatility.

The Cboe Volatility Index, known as the VIX, which is the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term volatility for the S&P 500 index, closed lower, a day after it hit its highest level since 2015.

On Wall Street, all but two S&P 500 index sectors ended higher, with economically sensitive materials, technology and consumer discretionary indexes posting the biggest gains. Rate-sensitive utilities, down 1.5 percent, led decliners.

"Despite violent moves in the last couple days in the market, fundamentals in the economy are very strong and it's not just the U.S., it's throughout the global economy," Alicia Levine, head of global investment strategy at BNY Mellon Investment Management in New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 567.02 points, or 2.33 percent, to 24,912.77, the S&P 500 gained 46.2 points, or 1.74 percent, to 2,695.14 and the Nasdaq Composite added 148.36 points, or 2.13 percent, to 7,115.88.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 2.50 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.14 percent.

Emerging market stocks lost 2.74 percent, but the iShares MSCI emerging markets exchange-traded fund jumped 3.3 percent.

Commodity markets remained gloomy, with oil and industrial metals' prices all falling, as the year's stellar start for risk assets rapidly soured.

U.S. crude oil fell 1.2 percent to settle at $63.39 a barrel, while Brent dropped 1.1 percent to settle at $66.86.

Copper lost 1.30 percent to $7,075.85 a tonne.

Gold prices fell 1.0 percent to a 2-1/2-week low. Spot gold was down 1.0 percent at $1,326.51 an ounce.

U.S. Treasury debt prices were last down slightly. Earlier, volatile equity markets led investors to seek out lower-risk bonds, but many investors remained nervous after a week-long bond rout sent yields on Monday to four-year highs.

Benchmark 10-year notes were last down slightly in price to yield 2.8054 percent, from 2.766 percent late on Monday.

The original trigger for the U.S. stock market sell-off was a sharp rise in U.S. bond yields late last week, after data showed U.S. wages increasing at the fastest pace since 2009. That raised the alarm about higher inflation and, with it, potentially higher interest rates.

"Once rates started moving, that kind of exposed some of these levered short VIX sales. A very crowded trade, it just took a while to unwind that," said John Lynch, Chief Investment Strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The U.S. dollar was barely up against a basket of currencies, paring gains as Wall Street rallied late.

The dollar index last rose 0.13 percent, with the euro up 0.06 percent to $1.2384.

(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak, Kate Duguid and April Joyner in New York, Marc Jones and Helen Reid in London and Sweta Singh; Editing by James Dalgleish and Rosalba O'Brien)