US stocks were lower on Thursday, but off their session lows, as market volatility in China and a relentless slide in oil prices unnerved investors, already jittery after a shaky start to the year. China allowed the biggest fall in the yuan in five months, and Shanghai stocks were halted for the second time this week after another brutal selloff tripped a new circuit breaker.
Global stocks, however, trimmed losses after the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges said China would suspend the circuit breaker as of Friday. The mechanism has been in place the start of this year. With Beijing accelerating the yuan's depreciation to make its exports more competitive, investors fear China's economy is even weaker than had been imagined.
Adding to the gloom, oil slipped below $33 a barrel to near 12-year lows due before regaining some ground. Still, oil prices are down about 70 percent since mid-2014. "There is a wall of worry under full construction brought on by China, fall in oil prices and uncertainty regarding quarterly earnings," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
At 10:47 am ET (1546 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 142.21 points, or 0.84 percent, at 16,764.3, the S&P 500 was down 19.47 points, or 0.98 percent, at 1,970.79 and the Nasdaq Composite index was down 67.34 points, or 1.39 percent, at 4,768.43.