Stocks ended lower on Wednesday, suffering a third late-day sell-off in a row, suggesting it may be difficult to chalk further gains as the year comes to a close.

Based on the latest available data, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 19.07 points, or 0.17 percent, to end unofficially at 11,457.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 6.35 points, or 0.51 percent, to finish unofficially at 1,235.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> slipped 10.50 points, or 0.40 percent, to close unofficially at 2,617.22.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Jan Paschal)