ISSN: 2056-3736 (Online Version) | 2056-3728 (Print Version)

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The U.S. stock market began Thursday’s session with a sharp selloff, but the tide turned and benchmarks cut losses, seemingly after comments by a Federal Reserve officials on possibility of extending bond purchases.┬áJames Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Fed, said the Federal Reserve should consider extending its bond-buying program beyond October to see how the U.S. economic outlook evolves. Bullard isn’t a voting member this year of the rate-setting FOMC.

Fears that the market has farther to fall persisted, however, as evidenced by muted reaction to better-than-expected earnings and upbeat economic reports.

The S&P 500 (SPX) was down 5 points, or 0.3%, to 1,857.71. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 47 points, or 0.3%, to 16,093.31. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) slipped 15 points, or 0.3%, to 4,200.44.

The main benchmark erased nearly all of year-to-date gains and is a few percentage points away from being in correction territory (a decline of at least 10% from its peak). Read: Here’s what drove the market meltdown

Jeffrey D. Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James wrote in a note that Wednesday’s roller-coaster session was due to market participants’ inability to manage their risk in July, when he prematurely predicted that the market would see a 10% correction.

“The time to raise cash was in the June–August time frame, when the dollar took off and negative divergences mounted, not now,” he wrote.

In economic news, initial weekly jobless claims dropped to their lowest level in more than 14 years, while industrial production climbed 1% in September. Manufacturers in the Philadelphia region expanded a bit more slowly in October but growth was still strong, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. A gauge of confidence among home builders pulled back this month from a nine-year high in September, falling five points to 54, according to National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo data released Thursday

Earnings: The results season continued at full speed on Thursday, with a heavy lineup ahead of the opening bell.

Goldman Sachs (GS) reported third-quarter earnings of $4.57, beating a consensus estimate from FactSet of $3.21, but reported higher expenses. Shares fell 2%.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) rose 2.6% after reporting third-quarter results.

Tobacco maker Philip Morris International (PM) reported third-quarter profit that topped expectations, but cut its full-year outlook citing the negative impact from the currency markets. Shares were little changed.

Toy maker Mattel Inc. (MAT) posted earnings and sales that fell short of expectations as gross sales of its flagship Barbie doll fell 21% world-wide. Shares dropped 4.6%.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) reported third-quarter profit of $1.63 a share, beating estimates of EPS of $1.53. Shares rose 4.5%.

Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) shares dropped 9.4% after the oil-field-services company reported earnings per share that fell short of forecasts.

Movers and shakers: Netflix Inc. (NFLX) shares sank 23%, after the video-streaming company on Wednesday said its new-subscriber count fell short of its forecast of 3.69 million. It added 3.02 million new members during the quarter.

EBay Inc. (EBAY) lost 5% after the online retailer late Wednesday reported third-quarter earnings fell to $673 million, or 54 cents a share, from $837 million, or 53 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) was down 1.8%, ahead of a scheduled event where the tech giant is expected to launch new iPads and the latest in the iMac line.

Oil slide: Crude-oil futures continued their brutal decline on Thursday, with the front-runner contract (CLX4) dropping below $80 a barrel, on track for the lowest settlement price since June 2012. An OPEC official said U.S. oil prices could fall to around $70 a barrel, suggesting that some in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries see prices falling further.

Other markets: Europe’s benchmark stock index dropped for an eighth straight day, after closing 3.2% lower on Wednesday. Data from Eurostat confirmed that inflation fell to an almost five-year low of 0.3% in September. Read: European stocks slip into correction amid ‘perfect storm.’

Asian markets closed mostly in the red, with the Nikkei falling 2.2%. Most metals traded lower, while the dollar rose against most major currencies.