– Another slide in raw-material producers and oil companies tugged the stock market to a slight loss on Wednesday, amid heightened concerns about global economic growth. Dow Chemical and Chevron each lost 2 percent.

The news out Wednesday was hardly encouraging. A private measure of manufacturing in China hit its lowest level in six years, a result of weaker factory production, overall new orders and hiring.

That, along with plunging oil prices, could have led to a much bigger sell-off, said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management. But that’s hardly encouraging for investors looking for a signal that the worst is over. The market has finished lower in four of the past five days.

“I’m sure there are a lot of buyers on the sidelines,” he said, “but right now it doesn’t seem like a very good time to buy.”

The major indexes headed higher at the outset of trading Wednesday, took a sharp turn lower, then climbed back almost to break-even in the afternoon. By the closing bell, the stock market wound up just shy of where it started.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gave up 3.98 points, or 0.2 percent, to finish the day at 1,938.76.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 50.58 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,279.89, and the Nasdaq composite fell 3.98 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,752.74.

The S&P 500 has lost more than 8 percent in three months.