The Dow and S&P 500 fell Tuesday as commodity-related shares declined and nervousness increased ahead of a Federal Reserve statement, while the Nasdaq ended higher.
Stocks cut losses in afternoon trading, led by a rise in tech shares. The S&P 500 technology index was up 0.1 percent, helped by gains in Apple (AAPL), up 1.7 percent at $127.04, and Facebook (FB), up 1.7 percent at $79.36.
After the bell, shares of Oracle (ORCL) rose 3.4 percent to $44.33 following results.
Investors were anxious as the Federal Open Market Committee kicked off its two-day meeting, to be followed by a statement from Chair Janet Yellen Wednesday afternoon.
"If they're still on pace for a mid-year move, whatever language they use doesn't make a difference," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Among S&P 500 sectors, materials was the weakest with a 1.2 percent decline, led by DuPont, down 3.1 percent at $74.68. The energy sector was down 0.5 percent as oil prices fell further, pressured by concerns over a growing supply glut.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 128.34 points, or 0.71 percent, to 17,849.08, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) lost 6.99 points, or 0.34 percent, to 2,074.2 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 7.93 points, or 0.16 percent, to 4,937.44.
The benchmark S&P 500 index Monday had seen its biggest percentage gain since Feb. 3.
While higher rates are a sign of strength in the U.S. economy, some investors question whether the economy is strong enough to handle the increased borrowing costs.
Stocks Making News
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) weighed most heavily on the S&P 500 with a 1.2 percent decline to $99.89.
Also boosting the Nasdaq, shares in American Airlines (AAL) rose 6.9 percent to $53.69 after an announcement that it would join the S&P 500.
About 6.1 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.6 billion average for the month to date, according to BATS Global Markets.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,607 to 1,429, for a 1.12-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,384 issues rose and 1,330 fell, for a 1.04-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 26 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 112 new highs and 62 new lows.
What to watch Wednesday:
Federal Reserve policymakers meet to set interest rates, followed by a statement and projections at 2 p.m. Eastern time and a press conference at 2:30 p.m.
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
10 Clever Hacks That Save Both Money and the Earth
Market Wrap: Dow, S&P Fall on Fed Jitters; Nasdaq Inches Up
Take shorter showers. Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load. Install a low-flow showerhead. Fix leaky faucets. Use rain barrels to collect water for your garden (check first to see if it's legal in your area).
Shaving an extra $10 per month from your water or energy bill adds up to $120 each year, a nice chunk of change to have back in your budget.
Live in an area of town that's not overly car-dependent. Walk or bike to work, or use public transit if it's available. Carpool with coworkers who live nearby. Set up a carpool schedule for getting the neighborhood kids to and from school and extracurricular activities.
Run all your errands in one trip rather than heading out several times a week to take care of a task here and a task there. This saves time, money and the environment –- a trifecta of savings.
Create a meal plan and a shopping list to make sure you only buy ingredients you'll eat before they spoil. Learn to use leftovers creatively. Compost food scrapes and food that has happened to expire, or find ways you may still be able to use it (like turning overripe bananas into banana bread).
Install a water purification tap on your faucet and buy a reusable water bottle you can take to the gym or carry while running errands. You can also buy reusable water bottles that have a filtration system built into the cap, so you can refill at a drinking fountain while you're out.
Buying fresh ingredients and making your own meals from scratch is another trifecta: It saves you money; it cuts back on the unnecessary waste caused by foods that are over-packaged; and it cuts back on the health risks of foods that are over-processed.
This motto of frugality from the Great Depression -– "use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without" -- is a smart one to follow today if you're on a mission to live in a way that's more Earth-friendly.
This motto encompasses everything from mending clothes rather than throwing them away to learning to fix your broken toaster rather than buying a new one. In our "disposable" society, this motto stands as an encouragement to be more resourceful and make the most of what you already own.
Whether it's in your backyard or on your kitchen windowsill, growing your own veggies and herbs gives you fresh, organic ingredients you don't have to waste gas driving to the store to purchase. Plus, you'll know your produce is totally organic and pesticide-free because you grew it yourself.
When you make your own cleaning products from simple household ingredients, you save money, cut back on packaging waste, and can make solutions that are safer for the environment and your family. Many household cleaning products get the job done just as well as expensive store-bought cleaners with harsh chemicals.
Why buy a DVD you'll only watch a once or a book that will just sit on your shelf once you've read it? Borrow media from your local library -- many libraries even have video games for your kids.
When you have a DIY project, borrow tools from your neighbors rather than buying a power washer or circular saw you'll probably never use again. Organize a clothing swap with your friends so you can trade items from each other's closets -- an outfit that's old and boring to you could be new and fresh to one of your friends.