– More evidence that global economic growth is slowing pushed the U.S. stock market down for a third straight day on Thursday.

The market fell sharply at the open, pushing stocks close to their lowest levels of the month, before rebounding during afternoon trading to close with only slight losses.

Caterpillar, a bellwether for industrial companies, fell sharply after cutting its sales outlook for this year and announcing that it would eliminate as many as 10,000 jobs.

Also, the government reported that orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods dropped in August. A key category that tracks business investment plans was especially weak.

"We're looking for that good news, and we're not getting any," said John Toohey, vice president of equity investments at USAA.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,932.24. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 78.57 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,201.32. The Nasdaq composite fell 18.27 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,734.48.

The market has been in a funk for the past month as investors worry that slowing growth overseas, particularly in China, will hurt U.S. companies. A decision by the Federal Reserve to hold its benchmark interest rate close to zero also made investors uneasy.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen told reporters after the meeting that worries about China and emerging markets were a factor in their decision.

ASSOCIATED PRESS