Equities also appeared to rally in afternoon trading following a report said that the U.S. and China have doubled down on efforts to reach an agreementin the growing trade war, at the Group of 20 meeting later this month.
Representatives for President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping have intensified efforts to strike a deal following a phone call between the two leaders earlier this month, according to a Financial Times report. China reportedly responded to Washington's requests to deal with a range of American grievances, and the possibility of concessions was reviewed.
One person familiar with the situation told the FT that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has already informed some industry executives the next wave of tariffs was already on hold.
Stocks fell from their highs, however, after a spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative told CNBC "the plan for the tariffs as covered in the Federal Register Notice dated Sept. 21, 2018 has not changed at all. Any reports to the contrary are incorrect."
Sentiment across the globe has improved on reports that China has delivered a written response to U.S. trade demands. U.S. government sources told Reuters on Wednesday that China had sent a response to U.S. demands on the ongoing trade negotiation, giving hopes to investors that the two sides might bring an end to the spat.
Financials were up on the day as J. P. Morgan buoyed the big banks higher after famed investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway disclosed a new $4 billion stake in the company. Bank of America, also part of the Berkshire portfolio, rallied 2.5 percent. The SPDR S&P Bank ETF rose 1.7 percent.
Walmart missed on revenue estimates in the third quarter, contributing to a 1.9 percent drop in shares. Though the company reported strong e-commerce sales and raised full-year guidance, the sales miss and news that Buffett dissolved his stake in the company weighed on the stock.
"The hard part for most investors is not so much that earnings are disappointing or not ... the real issue is what's going to happen next year," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank. "There's a sense that it can't get too much better. Looking forward, with the market turmoil overseas and the recognition that the effect of the tax cuts will begin to wane, it's hard to think it'll get better."