U.S. stocks pared some of their losses and the Nasdaq Composite briefly turned positive on Thursday, boosted by a spike in shares of Apple Inc .

The broad S&P 500 was still down more than 1 percent on worries about the economy and as crude prices tumbled after the International Energy Agency said it will release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic stockpiles to help the global economy.

But the Nasdaq had cut its losses enough to edge back into positive territory for the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 140.35 points, or 1.16 percent, to 11,969.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 13.19 points, or 1.02 percent, to 1,273.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dipped 4.86 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,664.33.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Jan Paschal)