U.S. stocks trimmed losses as investors speculated a three-day retreat in equities was overdone and prepared for the final day of the biggest first- quarter rally since 1998.
Caterpillar Inc., Alcoa Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. climbed more than 1 percent for the biggest gains in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which erased most of a 94-point decline. Bank of America Corp., American Express Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. led losses in the 30-stock average.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 0.3 percent at 1,400.78 at 3:31 p.m. in New York after tumbling as much as 1 percent earlier. The Dow fell 11.58 points to 13,114.63, reversing a drop of as much as 94 points.
Earlier declines came after after S&P said Greece may have to restructure its debt again.
The S&P 500 will likely remain stuck in the 500-point range where it’s been four-fifths of the time since 2000 until the Federal Reserve allows interest rates to rise, according to Piper Jaffray Cos.
The benchmark measure fell in the previous two days after reaching 1,416.51, the highest level since May 2008 and 9.5 percent below its record high of 1,565.15 from 2007. The index has traded between 1,000 and 1,500 for about 80 percent of the time since 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Equity gains stalled in the past 12 years as the economy suffered from the bursting of bubbles in technology and real estate, forcing the central bank to cut its benchmark interest rate to near zero from 6.5 percent to spur growth. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has pledged to keep borrowing costs low through at least late 2014.
“The S&P 500 is approaching the upper end of the secular trading range,” Craig W. Johnson, a Minneapolis-based technical market strategist with Piper Jaffray, wrote in a note yesterday. “This resistance will likely remain intact until 2014-2015, and will correspond with a secular change in bond yields.”
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