* Indexes volatile after dropping 2 pct at session start
* S&P, Dow on Monday tallied worst days since Aug 2011
* Defensive sectors lag, consumer discretionary higher (Updates with early afternoon trading)
Feb 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell in volatile afternoon trading on Tuesday after shedding gains, following the biggest one-day declines for the S&P 500 and the Dow in more than six years.
Stocks swung up and down after indexes started the session 2 percent lower, underscoring a return of volatility to a market that until recently had been known for the absence of such major shifts. The Dow had a more than 930-point difference between its high and low on Tuesday.
The sharp declines in recent days marked a pullback long-awaited by investors after the market minted record high after record high in a relatively calm ascent.
"When you get these periods of intense panic, it makes sense to be buying while others are forced sellers but on the other hand you don't know that the negative mood will go away quickly," said Trevor Greetham, head of multi asset at Royal London Asset Management in London.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 59.07 points, or 0.24 percent, to 24,286.68, the S&P 500 lost 13.09 points, or 0.49 percent, to 2,635.85 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.63 points, or 0.04 percent, to 6,964.90.
Defensive sectors utilities and real estate lagged, while technology and consumer discretionary were among the top-performing sectors.
(Additional reporting by April Joyner, Chuck Mikolajczak and Sinead Carew in New York, Shounak Dasgupta, Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Thomas, Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)