Low oil prices put pressure on energy companies as stocks opened and closed lower on Tuesday for the first time in three sessions.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 9.44 points, or 0.06 percent, to 16,560.54, with United Technologies and General Electric the largest of the 16 blue-chip decliners and Microsoft leading gains.
The S&P 500 closed lower 3.17 points, or 0.16 percent, to 1,933.75, with energy the greatest laggard as seven of 10 sectors declined and telecommunications led gains.
The Nasdaq fell 12 points, or 0.27 percent, to 4,389.25.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended the day near 14.20, below the 50 period moving average of 14.33.
In the market close, three stocks declined for every two that advanced on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of more than 542 million and a composite volume of 2.6 billion.
U.S. 10-year Treasury note yield rose to 2.45 percent ahead of its auction on Wednesday.
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The U.S. dollar gained slightly against other major currencies.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude futures closed 71 cents lower at $97.37 a barrel, while gold futures closed up 10 cents to $1,310.60 an ounce. Brent crude oil fell to a 13-month low in intraday trading.
Women's fashion brand Kate Spade dropped more than 19 percent to four-month lows after the firm expressed concerns on margin pressure in a conference call. Earlier in the session, the firm rose to seven-year highs on a better-than-expected quarterly earnings report.
Ahead of other reports from major consumer firms later this week, a few technology stocks remained in focus.
Nuance Communications, maker of speech recognition software, dropped more than 10 percent on Tuesday after reporting fiscal third quarter profit of 27 cents per share, excluding certain items, matching estimates. However, its revenue was below Street forecasts, as is its current quarter revenue and earnings forecast. Nuance is the company whose software powers Apple's Siri feature on iPhones and iPads.
Cloud hosting company Rackspace fell nearly 6 percent after reporting earnings in line with estimates and revenue that beat after Monday's closing bell. The company is forecasting current quarter revenue above analyst estimates, as demand for its cloud management services increases.
Tesla closed slightly higher after falling about one percent in morning trading. Its Model S sedan is the subject of a new Consumer Reports review, in which the magazine said the car has "more than its share of problems." The publication praised the car for its design and smoothness, but is now also detailing various issues with a Model S that it has driven about 16,000 miles. Tesla points out that its warranty covered the issues mentioned and that Consumer Reports benefits, as any owner would, from its comprehensive warranty program.
Twitter rose more than 2 percent in late morning trading despite a report that 8.5 percent of its active users are actually bots.
On tap this week:
Earnings: Fossil, JDS Uniphase, Cree
Earnings: Deere, Macy's, Cisco, SeaWorld, NetApp, Noodles, Surgical Care Affiliates, Iamgold
7:00 a.m.: Mortgage applications
8:30 a.m.: Retail sales
0905 a.m.: New York Fed President William Dudley
9:20 a.m.: Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren
10:00 a.m.: Business inventories
1:00 p.m.: 10-year note auction
Earnings: Wal-Mart, Nordstrom, J C Penney, Kohl's, Red Robin Gourmet, Advance Auto Parts, Agilent
8:30 a.m.: Jobless claims
8:30 a.m.: Import prices
1:00 p.m.: 30-year bond auction
Earnings: Estee Lauder
8:30 a.m.: PPI
8:30 a.m.: Empire manufacturing survey
9:00 a.m.: TIC data
9:15 a.m.: Industrial production
9:15 a.m.: Capacity utilization
9:55 a.m.: University of Michigan consumer sentiment