NEW YORK -- A late recovery on Wall Street wiped out most of the stock market's losses Thursday, leaving the Dow Jones industrial average down just 25 points.
The Dow had been down as much as 177 points but came back sharply in the last 20 minutes of trading.
Many insurance stocks fell sharply after the Supreme Court upheld most of President Obama's health care law. The stocks of hospital operators rose. The ruling upheld the central provision of the law, a requirement that almost all Americans carry health insurance.
There were varying explanations for the late comeback on the stock market. European leaders were holding their first day of summit talks to address the region's sluggish economic growth and collapse of investor confidence in the finances of weak countries like Greece and Portugal.
There wasn't any concrete or official plan to emerge from the meeting, but rumors swirled that the European Central Bank could cut interest rates, and that European leaders were becoming more conciliatory, rather than just confrontational, as they worked on how to prop up troubled countries that are too big to bail out, like Spain and Italy.
The New York Times reported that JPMorgan's loss from complex derivatives trades that went wrong could swell to $9 billion, much larger than the bank has acknowledged. The bank had said previously the loss was $2 billion but could get larger.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 24.75 points at 12,602.26.
Other indexes also cut their losses. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.91 points to end at 1,329.04 and the Nasdaq composite fell 25.83 points to 2,849.49. Both indexes had been down more earlier.
The dollar and Treasury prices rose as investors parked money in low-risk assets. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.59% from 1.63% late Wednesday. The dollar rose about a penny against the euro to $1.24.
There was little for investors to like in new reports on the U.S. economy.
The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.9% in the January-March quarter, according to a new government estimate. Consumer spending, which accounts for a huge part of the economy, grew 2.5%, below the previous 2.7% estimate. The four-week average of applications for unemployment benefits didn't decline, a sign that layoffs aren't easing.
News Corp. fell 1% after the media conglomerate said it would separate its publishing and entertainment businesses into two public companies. The stock or Rupert Murdoch's sprawling media empire, which includes The Wall Street Journal, the Fox TV network, Fox News Channel and newspapers in Australia and Britain, gave up 32 cents to $21.99.
Family Dollar Stores fell $1.93 to $67.20 after the discount retailer of household goods and food reported earnings and revenue that were short of what Wall Street analysts were expecting.
Paychex dropped 95 cents to $30.98. The company, which provides payroll, human resources and benefits services to employers, reported revenue was shy of what analysts were expecting.
Rising stocks outnumbered falling ones three to two. Volume was average at 3.8 billion shares.