By Caroline Valetkevitch
(Reuters) - U.S. stocks were down slightly following weak Chinese economic data, but indexes recovered in afternoon trading along with oil prices.
Data showed China's exports fell 10 percent in September, far worse than markets had expected, while imports unexpectedly shrank, reviving concerns about the health of the world's second-largest economy.
Energy shares pared losses as oil prices ended higher. A U.S. government report of larger-than-expected draws in diesel and gasoline helped prices rebound.
"The catalyst, I think, to start getting some trades in was the oil price stabilizing, and just the fact that short-term we were oversold," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Fed on Wednesday released the minutes of its last rate-setting meeting that showed several policymakers felt a move was warranted "relatively soon" if the U.S. economy continued to strengthen.
The U.S. economy is doing "pretty well" and has a strong labour market, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said on Thursday. Harker does not have a vote on monetary policy this year but will in 2017.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 16.74 points, or 0.09 percent, to 18,127.46, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 2.47 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,136.71 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 15.61 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,223.41.
The benchmark S&P 500 had closed below the 2,140 mark on Thursday, confirming a break below its 100-day moving average, which had served as technical support over the past month.
Market valuations will be put to test during the earnings season, with third-quarter profits of S&P 500 companies currently expected to have fallen 0.7 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The S&P 500 index is trading at 17 times forward earnings, compared with its 10-year median of 14.7, according to StarMine data.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.67-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.92-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 22 new highs and 85 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Nick Zieminski)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)