The S&P 500 and Dow pared early losses and the Nasdaq briefly turned positive on Wednesday as gains in energy and semiconductor shares helped offset worries about Japan's nuclear crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 48.14 points, or 0.41 percent, at 11,807.28. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 2.75 points, or 0.21 percent, at 1,279.12. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 1.85 points, or 0.07 percent, at 2,665.48.