In company news, Blackberry reported quarterly earnings that outpaced market expectations, boosted in part by the launch of its new BlackBerry 10 smartphone. Still, the company lost subscribers at a rapid pace, with the base of users contracting to 76 million from 79 million. (Read More: Is BlackBerry's Turnaround on Track?)
Pinnacle Foods jumped more than 10 percent in their NYSE debut as the packaged foods maker priced at $20, at the top of their expected range of $18 to $20.
Goldman Sachs ended lower even after Guggenheim started coverage of the banking giant with a "buy" rating and price target of $175. Meanwhile, the brokerage initiated coverage of Morgan Stanley with a "neutral" rating and a price target of $25.
United Technologies rose after Morgan Stanley initiated coverage of the Dow component with an "overweight" rating, saying the company has "significant, broad-based" tailwinds.
On the economic front, the U.S. economy grew at a 0.4 percent annual rate, according to the Commerce Department, just a touch below the 0.5 percent gain expected by economists in a Reuters survey. And weekly jobless claims jumped 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000, according to the Labor Department.
Meanwhile, the pace of business activity in the Midwest slowed in March, with the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago barometer dipping to 52.4 from 56.8 in February. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the regional economy.
Treasurys added to losses after the government auctioned $29 billion in 7-year notes at a high yield of 1.248 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, was 2.56.
(Read More: That New Quarter Smell: Will Good Times Roll?)