Stocks sold off in the final hour of trading Monday, wiping out any gains Wall Street achieved in February.
A health care selloff to begin the week led to broad losses across equity markets on Monday. The S&P 500 ended the session 0.82% lower, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.75%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.71%. Benchmark indexes were up roughly half a percent earlier in the session.
While the S&P 500 ended the month 0.4% lower, its marginal losses marked a welcome departure from January's stretch of selloffs that saw stocks lose more than 5%. A turn in sentiment in the past two weeks helped to buoy sentiment and entice cautious investors to return to equities.
"After a rough winter, concerns of higher interest rates and woes in the energy sector, the past two weeks have once again put a bounce in investors' steps," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management. "The economic data has been a bit better, with a positive revision to overall economic growth (thanks to inventory building), a still robust housing sector and a dollar that has stopped its dizzying climb."
The health care sector was the worst performer Monday led by a selloff in shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) . The drug company slumped after retracting its financial guidance and announcing plans to reschedule its fourth-quarter earnings report. Valeant has been under intense pressure over investigations into its pricing structure and resulting accounting problems.