The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 32.75 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 13,482.36, led by DuPont , after kicking off the fourth quarter with a modest rally.
Despite October being a "jinx month" because of major crashes in 1929 and 1987, the Dow has not posted an October loss since 2008.
The S&P 500 eked out a gain of 1.26 points, or 0.09 percent, to finish at 1,445.75. The Nasdaq rose 6.51 points, or 0.21 pecent, to end at 3,120.04.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, closed below 16.
Among the key S&P sectors, materials dragged, while health care rose.
“The market runup was purely on expectations for QE3 and once the statement was issued, there’s been no new positive catalyst coming in,” said Natalie Trunow, CIO of Calvert Investments. “The only reason it’s stayed up is because the market is expecting the earnings season to come out better than expected…That’s hard to anticipate, but I don’t think we’re going to see a great deal of positive surprises.”
Third-quarter earnings season kicks off next week with Alcoa scheduled to report Tuesday.
Stocks reversed early gains after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy poured cold water on speculation that the country is close to asking for a bailoutfrom the ECB. Meanwhile, economic woes in the country continued to weigh as the latest jobs figures showed unemployment rose again last month. European shares closed flat.
“Europe is still struggling and the economic fundamentals there are continuing to deteriorate,” said Trunow. “But people are focusing on policy action and not so much the underlying fundamentals.”
Among techs, Google briefly hit a fresh all-time highbefore retreating. Research In Motion jumped to lead the Nasdaq 100 index, closing at its highest level in nearly three months.