U.S. stocks made a surprise recovery by late afternoon Tuesday as crude oil prices returned to a level above $30 a barrel after dipping below for the first time since December 2003.
The S&P 500 inched 0.1% higher, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.18%, and the Nasdaq was up 0.26%.
Trading has been rocky throughout the day with an earlier rally deflating by midday. Since the beginning of the year, the S&P 500 and Dow have fallen 5.9%, and the Nasdaq has dropped 7.4%. U.S. markets were under extreme pressure last week after the Shanghai Composite suffered a weekly loss of more than 10%. The People's Bank of China continued to devalue the yuan in an attempt to stabilize a weakening manufacturing sector.
Crude oil prices moved off of session lows by the end of its session. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 3.1% to $30.43 a barrel on Tuesday afternoon after briefly breaking below $30. The commodity has fallen sharply to begin the year as worries over oversupply persist.
Energy shares were the worst performers on markets Tuesday. Major oilers including Exxon Mobil (XOM) , Chevron (CVX) , ConocoPhillips (COP) , Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) and Total (TOT) were all lower, while the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) fell 1.6%.
BP (BP) plans to cut around 4,000 jobs at its exploration and production businesses over the next year as it faces an extended period of lower oil prices. Layoffs will be focused on operations in Angola, Azerbaijan and the U.S.