NEW YORK (AP) - Investors recovered their poise after a shaky start to trading on Wall Street that sent stocks sharply lower.
U.S. markets plummeted immediately after the opening bell Thursday following a global slump prompted partly by an unexpected slowdown in Chinese manufacturing. Concern that the Federal Reserve might ease back on its economic stimulus program sooner than expected had also riled investors.
The dip gave investors who missed this year's stock market surge an opportunity to get into the market, and by midday the market had recouped most of its early loss. Stocks even climbed into positive territory by midday, then ended the day marginally lower.
"Most institutions, most hedge funds and most individuals have watched the market go up without them, so the dips are being bought," said Jim Russell, regional investment director at U.S. Bank. "There's a very strong case for U.S. stocks."
The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day just 12.67 points lower, or 0.1 percent, at 15,294.50. It fell as much as 127 points during the first hour of trading.
For the most part, the U.S. stock market has been going up steadily since the beginning of the year, with only infrequent declines. Investors' optimism has been stoked by a pickup in hiring at U.S. employers, a recovery in the housing market and record profits at U.S. corporations.
All that has helped push the Dow up 16.7 percent this year. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is up 15.7 percent since the start of 2013.