Stocks closed a light-volume session lower on Wednesday amid uncertainty regarding the upcoming Federal Reserve interest rate policy meeting.
"The bottom line is the Fed has to ease, and ease aggressively," said Bill Strazzullo, chief market strategist at Bell Curve Trading. "The market is telling us it needs easing."
"It's like the Fed hypnotized us over the last few days," said Jim Iuorio, director at TJM Institutional Services. "We had five Fed speeches recently that didn't say anything about a 50-basis-point ease, which is what the market really wants. But somehow they've convinced everyone just to be calm."
Volume was light, with many of the S&P 500 sectors moving just above and below flat-level throughout the session. Energy led the buying as the biggest percentage gainer by far after crude oil briefly rose above $80 a barrel.
Consumer staples stocks traded higher as worries about a recession unnerved investors, with Proctor & Gamble closing at a new all-time high.