The market bounce arrived fashionably late on Tuesday afternoon, following days of extreme selloffs.
Benchmark indexes pared most of their earlier losses in the final hour of trading as broad market momentum helped to eclipse another selloff in the energy sector. The S&P 500 was down just 0.07%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.08%, and the Nasdaq dropped 0.35%.
The last-minute rebound was welcome relief, but Wall Street's bearish side remained apparent after markets spent much of the day in the red.
It's little wonder investors were in a glum mood -- a weaker earnings season, signs of a global slowdown, and crude oil prices in a tailspin have pulled markets sharply lower at the start of 2016. The S&P 500 has fallen more than 9% so far this year.
The selloff may be overdone, though, according to some analysts.
"The market is pricing in a recession here, but I don't think we're going to get one," Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, told TheStreet. "We have had an awful lot of bad news, we've had an awful lot of concern out there. But the reality is, despite the slowdown that we've seen, ... as long as the employment continues to do well, and it is doing very well, I don't see a recession in the cards."
In a recent report, Bank of America analysts placed the odds of a U.S. recession in the next 12 months at just 25%.
Crude oil remains one of the poorest performers in the markets, and that trend continued on Tuesday with prices dropping for the fourth session in a row. Commodities were under pressure after the International Energy Agency warned oil likely will remain lower as Iranian production exacerbates an oversupply crisis.
"It is very hard to see how oil prices can rise significantly in the short term," the IEA said in its monthly industry report. "Persistent speculation about a deal between OPEC and leading non-OPEC producers to cut output appears to be just that: speculation."
The energy sector was Tuesday's worst performer.Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Report , Chevron (CVX) - Get Report , Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) , Total (TOT) - Get Report and BP (BP) - Get Report all declined, while the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) - Get Report slid 2.4%.
Fresh data on the labor market helped to support the Federal Reserve's decision to hike rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade. Job openings that month climbed to 5.6 million, the second-highest level ever. Voluntary resignations increased 7%, indicating that workers were confident in other opportunities in the jobs marketplace.
The Fed's future rate hike plans continue to be a point of anxiety. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will address Congress on Wednesday and investors will be closely watching for signs. Wall Street remains concerned the central bank will move forward with additional rate hikes following December's move even as the economy shows signs of weakness.
"The markets will have their ear to the ground to listen for any clues as to whether Yellen still sees March as the correct timing for the next rate hike," said Chuck Butler, managing director of EverBank Global Markets. "She'll have all of the markets' attention, as the data cupboard is light this week and we have to wait until Friday to see January's retail sales."
In earnings news Tuesday, Coca-Cola (KO) - Get Report reported a better-than-expected quarter as aggressive cost cuts improved margins. The beverage company earned 38 cents a share, a penny above estimates. Adjusted revenue, excluding currency headwinds and divestures, declined 1%.
21st Century Fox (FOXA) - Get Report fell 1.9% after a weaker quarter as its film business dragged. The media giant reported an 8.4% decline in sales in its December quarter, generated mostly by the sale of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland a year earlier, though weaker home entertainment sales also pressured the top line.
Viacom (VIAB) - Get Report shares slumped 22% after a mixed quarter. The media company missed sales estimates on weaker ad revenue and a poor comparative box office. Sales in its filmed entertainment unit slid 15%.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) - Get Report fell more than 6% on disappointing sales of its key eye-disease drug. Sales of Eylea increased 44% in its fourth quarter, slowing from 65% growth a quarter earlier. Adjusted earnings of $2.83 a share missed estimates of $3.36.