This story was updated at 4 p.m. EDT
U.S. stocks closed lower Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing lower for the second straight session as investors weighed a series of mixed corporate earnings. After seesawing in morning trading, the Dow gained roughly 90 points in afternoon trading as General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) rose nearly 6 percent after the automaker topped Wall Street's earnings forecasts.
However, equities turned lower after shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals were halted after plunging nearly 40 percent, weighing on the Nasdaq’s biotech sector. Valeant’s stock tumbled following Citron Research’s report that questioned whether the company was the “Pharmaceutical Enron.” After being halted 1:30 p.m. EDT, the stock cut some of its losses after trading resumed about a half hour later, with shares dropping 19 percent to close at $118.32.
Nine of the 10 sectors in the Standard & Poor's 500 index closed lower, led by losses in energy, material and healthcare stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) lost 49 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 17,169. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) edged down 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to end at 2,019. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) fell 41 points, or 0.8 percent, to finish at 4,840.
Oil prices pared losses Wednesday after initially falling more than 2 percent on concerns of oversupply. West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark for oil prices, fell 2 percent to $45.30 per barrel for December delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On the London ICE Futures Exchange, Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil prices, fell roughly 1.5 percent to $47.92.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported commercial crude inventories rose by 8 million barrels in the prior week to a total of 476.6 million barrels. The report contradicted a separate statement from American Petroleum Institute, which said Tuesday crude stockpiles rose 7.1 million barrels to 473 million barrels in the week to Oct. 16.
With no major economic releases scheduled for Wednesday, market professionals continued to eye third-quarter earnings from Boeing, Coca-Cola, General Motors and Baker Hughes.
Shares of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) rose around 6 percent after the automaker topped Wall Street's earnings forecasts, saying it would achieve a 10 percent North American profit margin this year, a year faster than previously expected.
Meanwhile, Dow component The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE:KO) traded mildly lower after the beverage company’s revenue fell short of forecasts, hurt by the effect of a strong U.S. dollar.
Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) announced Tuesday the company inked a search advertising deal with Google after reporting revenue and profit that fell short of estimates. The stock fell 5 percent in afternoon trading on Wednesday.