Stocks End Lower, Led by Techs; Vix Above 15

Stocks finished lower Tuesday, dragged by techs, as investors took profits following the recent stealth rally that briefly took the S&P 500 to its best level in four years earlier in the session.

S&P 500

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 68.06 points, or 0.51 percent, to end at 13,203.58, led by Verizon.

The S&P 500 declined 4.96 points, or 0.35 percent, to finish at 1,413.17. The Nasdaq erased 8.95 points, or 0.29 percent, to close at 3,067.26. Earlier, the Nasdaq 100hit an intraday high of 2,799.84, its highest level since December 2000.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, closed above 15.

Most key S&P sectors ended lower, led by techs, while financials held small gains.

Earlier, S&P 500 crossed above this year's intraday high of 1,422.38, touching highs not seen since May 2008. The index has climbed more than 3 percent so far in August. (Read More: S&P Facing 25% Drop Before Election?)

“The markets have become so temperamental and sensitive to the smallest piece of information,” said Keith Bliss, senior vice president at Cuttone & Co., adding that investors are booking some profit following the recent rally.

With little economic reports on tap this week, investors will be looking ahead to the release of the Federal Reserve's latest minutes from its July meeting. Meanwhile, Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to speak at Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the end of the month. (Read More: Could the Fed Undo the Dollar’s Rally?)

Apple turned lower after Oracle Investment Research cut its rating on the iPhone maker to "hold" from "buy." On Monday, the tech giant's shares closed at a new all-time high and became the biggest stock ever, topping Microsoft's peak market cap of $618.9 billion back in December 1999.

Facebook slipped after billionaire investor Peter Thiel sold roughly $400 million worth of shares in the social-networking giant. Facebook shares have wiped out nearly half of their value since its IPO in May. (Read More: Facebook’s Ambition Collides With Harsh Market)

And Groupon slumped to a new low after Barclays lowered its rating on the daily-deal site to "underweight" from "equalweight."

Best Buy declined after the struggling consumer-electronics retailer posted a decline in same-store sales and cut its earnings outlook. On Monday, the company named Hubert Joly as its new CEO. Separately, founder Richard Schulze rejected an offer from the board to conduct due diligence in his attempt to take the company private at a valuation of more than $8 billion. Shares have plunged nearly 30 percent year-to-date.

Urban Outfitters soared to lead the S&P 500 gainers after the apparel retailer posted results that topped expectations. In addition, at least 12 brokerages boosted their price targets on the stock.

Medtronic posted higher earnings, but were still shy of expectations. The medical technology company also maintained its profit forecast for fiscal 2013.

Tech giant Dell is slated to post earnings after the closing bell.

European shares closed higheras investors bet the ECB will soon start buying Spanish and Italian bonds to help lower their borrowing costs. Yields on Italian and Spanish benchmark bonds fell.

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her support for ECB President Mario Draghi's strategy to help the euro zone. Merkel is scheduled to meet with French President Francois Hollande on Thursday.

—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

What's Happening This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, existing home sales, oil inventories, FOMC minutes; Earnings from American Eagle Outfitters, Toll Brothers, Hewlett-Packard
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, PMI manufacturing index flash, new home sales, FHFA home price index; Earnings from Gold Fields, Hormel Foods, Big Lots,
FRIDAY: Durable goods orders, USDA food prices outlook

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