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Stocks slash earlier losses, close well off lows

(CNBC) U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, but closed well off session lows, as investors digested weak data out of China and rising oil prices while assessing the possibility of a Federal Reserve rate hike.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 184.25 points at its lows before closing about 40 points lower, with Goldman Sachs contributing the most losses. The index briefly broke below the 18,000 mark and hit its lowest level since July.

“It felt, to me, like we got a little over-extended to the downside earlier today,” said Daniel Deming, managing director at KKM Financial. “We broke through a key technical level on the S&P at 2,120” on an intraday basis.