Stock markets appeared a little calmer on Wednesday after a robust rally in the US overnight, but investors remained cautious - far from sure whether the last few days of volatility was a minor blip in the market or an ongoing correction.
Some breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday after Monday's 4.6% fall on the US Dow Jones Industrial Averge was followed by a 2.33% gain. The S&P 500 rallied 1.74% and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.13%.
Investors remain cautious
Signs that investors remained troubled by the recent sell-off remained, however. Asian markets were mixed - Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose a tentative 0.16% after three days of heavy losses, but Shanghai's Composite index fell 1.81% while Seoul's Kospi Composite shed 2.31% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.89%.
And while Europe's markets climbed, US futures indexes indicated opening losses when Wall Street opens.
Meanwhile, Wall Street's 'fear gauge' - the Vix index - which measures implied volatility on the S&P 500, was up 3.5% to 31.03. The Vix eased on Tuesday after its biggest one-day spike on record on Monday.
All of this left market participants wondering if a correction remained a possibility, or whether the period of turbulence was a small reversal in the market's overwhelmingly upward trend.
A correction is when an asset, security or other indicator falls more than 10% from its most recent cyclical peak. After Tuesday's gains on the S&P 500, the index is down 6.2% from its recent peak: at its worst on Monday, the losses amounted to 8.2%.
"Clearly there’s been a psychological hit to markets however overdue the correction was," said Anthony Rayner, asset manager at Miton.