(CNBC) U.S. stocks closed lower Thursday as investors awaited a post-close speech from Fed Chair Janet Yellen. ( Tweet This )
The major averages more than halved losses in afternoon trade. Oil turned higher, helping stocks shake off pressure from declines in global markets overnight. Utilities and energy led S&P 500 sector advancers.
"Crude was pretty strong on this one. We've broken through some pretty strong resistance on the SPX," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. "There was more support near 1,910, which coincides with 1,900 in the futures."
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"We really haven't had a great reason to sell off in the last two days because besides the durable goods numbers we haven't had much news," he said. "I think it's going to be very difficult for stocks to hold their heads up here because of some of the nervousness ahead of the Fed."