The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed lower for the first time in five days on Tuesday, led by declines in Apple, while investors puzzled over conflicting reports over the progress of U.S.-China trade negotiations.
The 30-stock Dow fell 26.72 points to 25,887.38. Apple was among the worst performers in the index, sliding 0.8 percent. The S&P 500 ended the day just below breakeven at 2,832.57 while the Nasdaq Composite closed 0.1 percent higher at 7,723.95. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose as much as 0.7 percent while the Dow traded nearly 200 points higher at its session high.
Stocks started to roll over after Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that U.S. officials are worried China may be pushing back against U.S. demands in the countries' ongoing trade talks. The report also said Chinese negotiators are worried they have not received assurances that tariffs imposed on Chinese goods would be lifted once a deal is struck.
The major indexes briefly regained some of its footing after Dow Jones said the talks were in the final stages, noting China Vice Premier Liu He will travel to Washington in the next few weeks.
Caterpillar shares closed flat after rising as much as 1.3 percent earlier in the day. Boeing also pared gains, closing 0.3 percent higher. Both stocks are seen as trade bellwethers given their exposure to overseas markets.
Semiconductor stocks also fell from their highs of the day before recovering. The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) rose 1.2 percent.
Sentiment around the talks had turned more positive recently as investors expected a deal to be reached between late March and April. This, in turn, helped stocks rally this year.
Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, said investors have grown complacent as this issue — along with Brexit in Europe — have yet to be fully resolved.