Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Wall Street stumbled out of the gate Wednesday morning during the first day of trading in 2019, but rebounded to post small gains by closing time.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost up to 399 points, before bouncing back to close up 18.78 points, or 0.081 percent, at the end of trading.
The S&P 500 fell 1.2 percent and the Nasdaq Composite, buoyed usually by the high-tech industry, tumbled 1.8 percent, before closing up 0.13 percent and 0.46 percent respectively.
Early market falls followed a private sector survey showing that manufacturing activity in China contracted for the first time in 19 months. China's Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index dropped to 49.7 in December from 50.2 in November. Markets reflect a concern that a Chinese and European economic slowdown is traveling around the world.
"Everybody is terrified that this is a sign of a global slowdown," Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS, told CNBC. "It was only eight months ago we were talking about synchronized growth and all of that is falling apart."
The slide was felt globally. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 2.8 percent lower, while the Shanghai Composite lost 1.2 percent and Australia's ASX fell 1.6 percent. Britain's FTSE was down 1 percent, while France's CAC tumbled 1.3 percent.
Energy stocks helped bring about the turnaround, as the S&P 500 energy sector rose 2.1 percent with gains in Cabot Oil and Hess and U.S. crude surged 2.5 percent.
The Nasdaq recovered its losses after Facebook rose 3.5 percent and Amazon was up 2.5 percent.
The early slide and overall volatility of the day continued from a turbulent December that saw all the indexes fall at least 8.7 percent for the month. The Dow and S&P 500 also recorded their worst December performance since 1931 and their biggest monthly loss since the financial crisis of February 2009.
President Donald Trump referred to December's market declines as a "glitch," telling reporters on Wednesday that recoveries could be expected after the completion of trade deals between the United States and other countries.