Stocks skidded Wednesday as techs dragged and the jump in oil prices spurred worries about the recovery in consumer spending.
Stocks had opened higher, buoyed by Home Depot's raised outlook, but those gains quickly faded.
This comes after a week in which stocks bobbed around to little effect: The Dow is down 0.07 point for the week, while the S&P 500 has managed to eke out a 0.25 percent gain and the Nasdaq has risen 0.6 percent.
Crude oil was above $71 a barrel, giving a boost to Dow oil components ExxonMobiland Chevron . The price had gone down a bit, but popped right back above $71 after a report showed crude inventories shrunk by 4.382 million barrels last week, much more than expected.
Home Depot advanced after the home-improvement retailer raised its outlook, saying it expects earnings to be flat to down 7 percent, compared with the prior projection of a 7-percent drop.
This comes after rival Lowe's raised its outlook last month.
Banks opened mixed as the market digested news that some of the largest institutions would be repaying government bailout money.
Two of those who won't be giving back their Troubled Asset Relief Protection funds are Bank of America and Citigroup.
Some investors worried that the 10 banks returning TARP money could be doing so too soon and might need further injections later.
Citi started a $58 billion stock swap to convert debt into stock, which will make the government the bank's largest shareholder, with a stake of 34 percent.
Elsewhere in the financial sector, JPMorgan raised its price target on both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley .
And Procter & Gamble this morning named Robert McDonald as its new CEO, succeeding A.G. Lafley, as expected.
Rival consumer-products maker Unilever said it plans to issue an eight-year sterling benchmark bond.
Techs opened mixed as investors took a breather after yesterday's gains, spurred by Texas Instruments raising its outlook.
Google was in focus as the Justice Department sent formal demands to publishers, seeking information about their deal with the tech behemoth to make millions of books available online, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In auto land, American depositary shares of Fiat rose following news that the sale of Chrysler to the Italian automaker is complete.
Shares of General Motors , which now trade on the Pink Sheets, also advanced.
In the day's economic news, the trade deficit ballooned to $29.16 billion, more than the $28.7 billion expected and the $28.53 logged in March. Exports fell 2.3 percent, while imports fell 1.4 percent.
And mortgage applications fell by 7.2 percentlast week to a four-month low as rising mortgage rates sapped demand.
The most-watched report of the day is likely to be the Federal Reserve's "Beige Book", the region-by-region assessment of the nation's economy. That's out at 2pm New York time, and investors will be looking to see if that evaluation contains the same level of optimism that other recent reports have evinced.
Simultaneously, the government will also be out with the monthly budget statement for May, expected to show a federal budget deficit of $180 billion for the month.
At 1pm, the market will get the results of the Treasury's 10-year note auction. These auctions have also gotten an increasing amount of attention in recent weeks, given the worry over investor interest in helping the U.S. finance its increasing budget deficit.
MON-FRI: Apple developers' conference
WEDNESDAY:Fed's Evans speaks; Weekly crude inventories; federal budget; Fed's beige book
THURSDAY: Retail sales; weekly jobless claims; business inventories; Fed's Lockhart speaks; Earnings from Nat Semi
FRIDAY: Import/export prices; consumer sentiment