On the economic front, the pace of growth in New York state's manufacturing sector slipped in October to its slowest since May, according to the New York Fed's "Empire State" general business conditions index.
Meanwhile, Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher said he sees no reduction in the central bank's bond-buying program this month, due to the fiscal standoff in Washington.
"This is just too tender a moment,'' said Fisher.
Apple briefly crossed above $500 after news that Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts will take over the iPhone maker's retail and online stores starting next year, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Shares in luxury fashion house Burberry traded lower.
Separately, the tech giant sent out a media event invitation for Oct. 22. The company is widely expected to introduce a new version of its iPad during the event.
Microsoft gained after Jefferies raised its rating on the tech giant to "buy" from "hold" and lifted its price target to $42 from $33.
JCPenney denied a market rumor that the retailer had hired bankruptcy counsel. Shares of the troubled department store chain tumbled nearly 9 percent. Shares have plunged more than 70 percent year to date.
Among earnings, Citigroup fell after the banking giant posted earnings and sales that fell short of expectations.
"Markets will be closely watching the momentum in the mortgage businesses, particularly after the slowdown in refinancing volumes and cost cuts reported in the JPM (JPMorgan Chase) and Wells Fargo results late last week," said Deutsche Bank analysts Jim Reid and Anthony Ip in a research note.
Coca-Cola reported higher quarterly earnings as robust sales of its drinks helped offset the effects of global economic pressures. Still, shares ended lower along with the broader market.
And fellow Dow component Johnson & Johnson ticked higher after the diversified health care company topped quarterly expectations and the company lifted its full-year profit forecast.
Intel, Yahoo and CSX are slated to post earnings after the closing bell.
(Read more: Companies worry about 'stepping on a bomb')