Stocks closed lower in volatile trading as investors debated whether the spread of the coronavirus may be slowing in several major economies. Oil sank and bonds retreated.

The S&P 500 Index fell 0.2 per cent after surging as much as 3.5 per cent. The benchmark briefly met the time-honoured definition for the start of a bull market after climbing 20 per cent from its March 23 low. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced after the rate of new infections slowed in France and in Italy, the original epicentre of the continent’s outbreak.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 21.44 points at 13,614.14.

“We’re going to continue to be very volatile, and you’re going to see this roller coaster continue,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA. “We will see a test of the bottoms again.”

New York’s rate of new coronavirus infections tapered for a third straight day, stoking optimism that the pandemic may finally be approaching a peak in the state where it has hit hardest.

Oil sank to the weakest level since the start of the month as investors weighed whether the world’s biggest producers will be able to strike a deal that cuts enough output to offset an unprecedented demand loss from the coronavirus outbreak.

“With the volatility being so wild lately, it doesn’t take much for the buyers to pull-in their horns,” said Matt Maley, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. “When oil rolled over, stock buyers got a little nervous.”

Elsewhere, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose more than 2 per cent after adding nearly 3 per cent a day earlier. Chinese stocks climbed and the yuan strengthened in the wake of further targeted stimulus by policy makers as Shanghai reopened after a long weekend. China said it didn’t have any new deaths for the first time since the pandemic emerged.