×

Stocks close flat as Dow recovers from triple-digit loss; Greece eyed

U.S. stocks closed narrowly mixed following a choppy day of trading on Wednesday, as investors continued to watch for developments in negotiations between Greece and euro zone finance ministers.

Earlier, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 109 points before closing about 7 points lower.

"I think all of this right now is nervousness around what we want to hear," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

Intraday movement

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis met with euro zone finance ministers on Wednesday after his new leftist-led government won a parliamentary confidence vote for its refusal to extend an international bailout.

The meeting included discussion of what could constitute a "bridge agreement'' for Greece once its bailout expires on Feb. 28, a Greek government official told Reuters.

But the chairman of the meeting, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, had said ahead of the meeting that talks will likely be inconclusive.

Read MoreShowdown: Crucial 48 hours for Greece

"The market is being held hostage to the uncertainty over the Greek crisis," said Marc Chaikin, CEO of Chaikin Analytics.

Other geopolitical developments on Wednesday included peace talks in Belarus by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, while fighting intensified in Kiev. President Barack Obama sent the text of his proposal to Congress regarding use of military force against the Islamic State.He limited operations to three years and barred use of U.S. troops in "enduring offensive ground combat." Obama is expected to speak on the issue around 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday's Eurogroup meeting is just part of the continuing negotiations as euro zone and Greek leaders have several scheduled discussions over the next few days.

"You've still got the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain)," said Bryan Turley, managing director of investment banking at MLV. "Greece going the wrong way is going to have an impact on all those countries."

Read MoreEurope ends lower as Greece deadline approaches

"I think the perception is always the bigger issue in Greece," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. He pointed out that the Greek economy is about the size of Dallas'.

The U.S. budget deficit widened slightly in January, fueled in part by higher spending on government health care services for low-income Americans, according to the Treasury Department.

With slightly higher interest rates, weekly mortgage applications were down 9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Mortgage Bankers Association said.

"For the fourth straight week, mortgage applications to buy a home has fallen, this time by 6.5 percent week-over-week as there is still no evidence yet, at least from this economic statistic, that demand for buying a home is on the cusp of accelerating," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in a note.

Apple traded by more than 2 percent higher, boosting the Nasdaq as the top performing major index. The stock closed at $122.02 a share on Tuesday, giving the firm a record market cap of more than $700 billion.

Lions Gate shares rose 8 percent on Wednesday on news that the entertainment company entered into a stock agreement with affiliates of billionaire John Malone.

Viacom shares traded lower after news late on Tuesday that Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show.

On the earnings front, PepsiCo beat estimates by four cents with adjusted fourth quarter profit of $1.12 per share, with revenue also beating forecasts. The beverage and snack giant does say it expects a "challenging and volatile" macroeconomic environment this year.

Read MoreEarly movers: PEP, TWX, TSLA, AOL, TRI & more

Time Warner reported adjusted quarterly profit of 98 cents per share, beating estimates by five cents. Revenue was slightly short of consensus, mostly due to declines at the Warner Brothers movie studio. Time Warner also raised its quarterly dividend by 10 percent to 35 cents per share.

Numbers from Baidu, Tesla Motors, Cisco Systems, MetLife, NetApp, Whole Foods, Applied Materials, Equifax and TripAdvisor are all due after the bell.

Crude oil inventories for the week rose to 4.9 million barrels, above expectations.

Crude oil futures settled down 2.4 percent, at $48.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures settled down $12.60, or about 1 percent, at $1,219.60 an ounce.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
DJIA
---
S&P 500
---
NASDAQ
---

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 6.62 points, or 0.04 percent, to 17,862.14, with Cisco the greatest decliner and Goldman Sachs the greatest of 12 blue chip gainers.

The S&P 500 closed down 0.06 points, or 0.00 percent, at 2,068.53, with utilities leading six sectors lower and consumer staples the greatest advancer.

The Nasdaq closed up 13.54 points, or 0.28 percent, to 4,801.18.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 17.

Decliners were a step ahead of advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 694 million and a composite volume of nearly 3.5 billion in the close.

High-frequency trading accounted for 47.5 percent of February to date's daily trading volume of about 7.5 billion shares, according to TABB Group. During the peak levels of high-frequency trading in 2009, about 61 percent of 9.8 billion of average daily shares traded were executed by high-frequency traders.

Read MoreTepper: Market will survive in spite of Greece

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield fell to trade just below 2 percent after its auction. The U.S. dollar traded higher against major world currencies while the Euro traded lower against the dollar below $1.13.

Reuters contributed to this report.

On tap this week:

Wednesday

Earnings: Baidu, Cisco Systems, MetLife, Applied Materials, CenturyLink, NetApp, Nvidia, Sun Life Financial, Tesla Motors, TripAdvisor, Whole Foods, Cheesecake Factory, FireEye, Panera Bread, Pilgrim's Pride, Select Comfort

Thursday

Earnings: Total, Advance Auto Parts, Credit Suisse, Dr Pepper Snapple, Hospira, Kellogg, McGraw-Hill Financial, Nielsen, Avon Products, AIG, CBS, DaVita, Digital Realty Trust, Kraft Foods, Republic Services, Groupon, King Digital, Regal Entertainment, Shutterfly, Zynga

8:30 a.m.: Jobless claims

8:30 a.m.: Retail sales

10:00 a.m.: Business inventories

10:30 a.m.: Natural gas inventories

10:30 a.m.: Draghi speaks in Brussels

1:00 p.m.: 30-year bond auction

4:30 p.m.: Fed balance sheet/money supply

Friday

Earnings: ArcelorMittal, Brookfield Asset Management, J.M. Smucker

8:30 a.m.: Import and export prices

10:00 a.m.: Consumer sentiment

More From CNBC.com: