World stocks clawed their way back from two-month lows on Wednesday, though momentum was weak and U.S. futures suggested Wall Street could lapse back into losses after rebounding from the biggest sell-off in six years.
European shares opened firmer after plumbing six-month depths on Tuesday, the tail-end of a sell-off induced by a volatility spike that took Wall Street's fear gauge, the VIX index, as high as 50, more than three times its closing level last Thursday.
That rout had wiped $4 trillion off world equities and sent investors scurrying for the safety of German and U.S. bonds, briefly reversing the steady rise in global yields.
MSCI's all-country index, however, was up 0.25 percent after four days in the red, boosted by gains in Europe, Japan, and emerging markets.
"People are still shaken after such a ferocious correction, especially as it came after a very long time. It is clear that there will be more volatility going forward," said Salman Ahmed, chief investment strategist at Lombard Odier Investment Managers. "But that's a healthy development so markets can focus on areas that are generally stronger. The upward (equity) trend can stay but it will be less steep than last year."
As calm returned, bond buying by panicky investors also abated and yields on "safe" German, Japanese and U.S. debt edged up, resuming the trend of recent weeks as markets price further U.S. rate rises and the withdrawal of stimulus in Europe.