There are technical factors as work as well, as the market retrenches after reaching highs for the year. Despite a pullback for much of the week, the S&P 500 continues to trade above 1,198, a key resistance level, meaning the broader upward trend hasn't broken.
"We’re pulling back within the context of a strong uptrend," Pado said.
Insiders appear to have taken advantage of the market's recent run-up to sell their holdings, according to TrimTabs Investment Research. Insiders sold $16 billion in the the sixty days ended Nov. 3. That's the most sold since $20 billion from October to November 2007, TrimTabs said.
Materials stocks were higher throughout the session, including specialty metals producer Allegheny Technology, Newmont Mining, and US Steel.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq was hit especially hard after Cisco's dismal outlook, although some tech names turned higher in afternoon trading.
Intel sharesreversed course after trading lower earlier in the session. Morgan Stanley upgraded the tech giant to "overweight" from "equal-weight," saying Intel's "Sandy Bridge" semiconductor chips will enable "the next generation of smaller, optimized PC computing devices."
Rival Dell shares , however, slipped almost 5 percent even after BofA Merrill raised its price target on the computer maker to $17.50 a share from $16.
Kulicke & Soffa fell almost 3 percent after the semiconductor equipment maker reported a weak view for the first quarter of 2011, despite soaring profit and revenue in its fiscal fourth quarter.
Other tech names that turned positive included Qualcomm , which told Reuters it plans to sell its wireless broadband business in India, Agilient Technologies , and Novell.
Shares of Cisco rivals Juniper Networks , Broadcom , Riverbed Technology and Jabil Circuit also sank.
Meanwhile, Level 3 Communications soared after news the company won a multiyear contractwith Netflix as a primary content streamer.
And in Europe, Siemens rose after the German tech company, proposed a sharp rise in its full-year dividend and raised its 2011 outlook. The company's earnings beat forecasts.
Bank stocks were largely in the red after a JPMorgan note on Wednesday warned that many provisions of the financial regulation bill might take time to be put in place because Republicans may "seek to use the apporopriations process to slow implementation of Dodd-Frank by underfunding the new federal agency staff needed to get those programs off the ground.”
Shares of JPMorgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo among others were trading lower.
In other earnings news, Viacom reported better-than-expected quarterly results, citing strong results at its MTV unit.
Walt Disney and Nvidia are slated to report earnings after-the-bell tonight.
Shares of Kohl's were slightly higher after the retailer reported earnings results that came in lines with expectations and forecasts same-store-sales would rise between 2 and 4 percent in the fourth quarter. Kohl's plans to open more stores than initially planned in 2011.
Meanwhile, shares of Urban Outfitters declined after the retailer's shares were cut to "hold" from "buy," by Keybank, while Lululemon Athletica shares were flat after a similar downgrade. Chico's, however, fell after the brokerage raised the specialty retailer's shares to "buy" from "hold." UBS raised its price target for Chico's to $10 a share from $9.
Also on the retail front, Wal-Mart is giving a holiday shoppers a break this year by offering free shipping on 60,000 online items through Dec. 20.
Boeing shares continued to weaken after leading the Dow lower the previous session following news of troubles with the airline maker's 787 Dreamliner. Boeing has halted future testsof the 787.
Overseas, the G20 meeting of world leaders in Seoul continued to wrestle with questions involving currency and trade imbalances. Moody's Investors Service, meanwhile, gave China a lift, upgrading China's government bonds to Aa3 from A1. Moody's cited China's resilient economyand sound balance of payments.
Oil prices climbednear $88 a barrel, rising to 25-month highs, lifted by increased demand in the world's top two oil consuming nations and after OPEC revised up its 2011 demand growth forecast. Meanwhile, gold hovered closed closed at $1,403 an ounce.
And Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told CNBC the United States would
never seek to weaken its currency
to gain a competitive advantage. That helped the dollar index slightly, but did little for stocks. Meanwhile, former Federal Reserve chief Allen Greenspan wrote in the Financial Times that the U.S. is
pursuing a policy of a weaker dollar
and pushing up exchange rates around the world.
Economist Joseph Stiglitz, meanwhile, said quantitative easing won't boost the economy, and risks starting trade wars.
Banks, government offices, and the bond market will be closed due to Veterans Day holiday.
On Tap This Week:
THURSDAY: Veterans Day — Bond market closed, stocks and futures markets open; Earnings from Disney and Nvidia.
FRIDAY: APEC CEO summit, Consumer sentiment, Earnings from DR Horton and JCPenney.
More From CNBC.com: