U.S. stocks fluctuated, with declines in consumer shares offsetting a rebound in biotechnology companies, as investors struggle to reconcile the prospects for higher interest rates with lingering concerns about slowing global growth.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose less than 0.1 percent to 1,882.09 at 12:21 p.m. in New York, after rising as much as 0.9 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 13.82 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,988.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index was little changed, and the Russell 2000 Index lost 0.2 percent after slumping to an 11-month low Monday.

Stocks have been volatile in recent weeks amid confusion over the Federal Reserve’s rate tightening policy while concern lingers that an economic slowdown in Asia will curb demand for commodities and crimp global growth. The S&P 500 is poised for its worst quarter since 2011, down 8.6 percent. The benchmark is 11 percent below its all-time high set in May.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index has closed above 20 for the past 26 sessions, the longest streak since January 2012. The measure of market turbulence known as the VIX fell 1.8 percent Tuesday to 27.14 after reaching a three-week high yesterday.

A report today showed consumer confidence unexpectedly gained this month as persistent job gains helped Americans shake off the effects of tumbling stock prices. Another report showed home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose 5 percent in July from the same month a year earlier, propelled by improving demand and limited supply.

Source : Bloomberg