Investors cashed in profits from a two-day rally on the Wall Street on Wednesday, leaving stocks marginally lower after a session of seesaw trading.
Stocks opened lower, gained a little after the Federal Reserve's Beige Book of regional economic conditions said that inflation was in check, and then dropped as the session neared its close.
Consumer discretionary and industrial stocks finished lower as investors sold off Amazon.com Inc., Boeing Co. and UPS Inc. on disappointing earnings news.
Energy stocks gained as a spike in oil prices helped the sector. A barrel of light crude settled at $73.94, up 19 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil had advanced as much as 90 cents a barrel earlier in the session.
Health care and utility stocks also rose as investors headed into the traditionally defensive sectors, which tend to do well in a choppy economy.
At the close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 1.20, or 0.01 per cent, to 11,102.51 after rising a total of 230 points the first two days this week.
Broader stock indicators also fell. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.48, or 0.04 per cent, to 1,268.40, while the Nasdaq composite index lost 3.44, or 0.17 per cent, to 2,070.46. Advancing issues led decliners by roughly 9 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange.