U.S. stocks mainly declined on Tuesday, a day after benchmarks rose to records, as the price of oil slid to a three-year low and Americans cast ballots in midterm elections.
"What we're seeing today is a little bit of anxiousness over the elections, which tend to spook investors," said David Lebovitz, global market strategist for J.P. Morgan Funds.
In congressional elections being held across the nation, Republicans were expected to increase their numbers in the House and Senate, although whether the GOP garners enough seats to take control of the latter body was viewed as too close to call.
The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of investor uncertainty, rose 1.1 percent to 14.89.
Brent crude fell to a multi-year low after Saudi Arabia lowered the price of oil exported to the United States, while increasing the cost to Asia and Europe.
"Lower oil prices negatively impact oil companies, but on the other hand, it's a positive for the U.S. consumer. So, energy stocks are taking it on the chin, but in a consumer-driven economy like the U.S., it's more important for the U.S. consumer to have more disposable income," Lebovitz added.
"I hoped the $81 I saved at the gas pump this morning is wisely spent so I can offset the thousands I'm losing on my energy names," quipped Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, in emailed commentary.
The European Commission reduced its estimates for euro-zone growth, projecting the 18-nation region's gross domestic product would climb by 0.8 percent in 2014 and 1.1 percent next year, a decline from estimates of 1.2 and 1.7 percent.
The Commerce Department reported U.S.
A separate report Tuesday had the trade gap expanding in September as exports slowed from a record, illustrating the impact of softer global growth on the U.S. economy.
"There are three things we're struggling with today: a lower assessment of the European economy, it's down from where they were six months ago; the sufficiently lower price in oil, and whether it's a supply issue or is it speaking to global demand, and then we're in a wait-and-see mode as we look at polling results, we may not even know tomorrow with certain key elections," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.