The Dow pulled off its fourth-straight gain, led by DuPont after better-than-expected earnings from the chemicals maker. But the gain was more modest than in recent sessions as a drop in consumer confidence tempered investors' enthusiasm.
Financials rose, while energy and consumer-discretionary stocks were among the weakest links.
DuPont led the Dow pack, followed by Hewlett-Packard and Pfizer .
The Conference Board delivered the latest sign that consumers are getting weary: Their gauge of consumer confidence fell to 50.4in July from 54.3 in June; economists surveyed by Reuters had expected the index to drop to 51.
Consumer spending is crucial to the economic recovery as it accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity.
"Concerns about business conditions and the labor market are casting a dark cloud over consumers that is not likely to lift until the job market improves," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Given consumers' heightened level of anxiety, along with their pessimistic income outlook and lackluster job growth, retailers are very likely to face a challenging back-to-school season."
Consumer-discretionary stocks were among the worst performers, with Gap and Best Buy both down more than 3 percent.
Teen chains Abercrombie & Fitch and Delia*'s fell almost 3 percent.
Walmart shares slipped after brokerage Stifel Nicolaus downgraded the retail giant to "hold" from "buy."
"We simply expect Wal-Mart will be 'turning the battleship' for some time due to recent managerial changes," analysts said.
Meanwhile, Stifel upgraded wholesaler Costco to "buy" from "hold."