Stocks weakened on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve's policy makers said the central bank should be ready to consider additional steps to boost the economy if a softening outlook takes a turn for the worse.
Indexes dipped to session lows shortly after the minutes of the Fed's June meeting were released.
Having the Fed come in and talk about a slowdown to where they may have to provide additional forms of easing and liquidity certainly would roil the market, said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Delta Global Advisors in Boston.
Wall Street had already been pressured by data that showed U.S. retail sales fell for a second straight month in June, adding to worries the pace of the recovery is slowing.
But gains in technology shares kept a lid on declines, with Intel Corp rising 2.3 percent to $21.450, a day after its better-than-expected quarterly results.
Other chipmakers also boosted the technology sector, with Qualcomm Inc adding 2.2 percent to $36.74.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> slipped 21.73 points, or 0.21 percent, to 10,341.29. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> eased 3.56 points, or 0.33 percent, to 1,091.78.
But the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 1.86 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,243.89, after earlier falling into negative territory following the release of the Fed minutes. The Nasdaq had touched a session low at 2,235.15.
Earlier, the S&P 500 touched an intraday high at 1,099.08 and the Nasdaq was up as much as 0.8 percent at a session high of 2,260.33.
The S&P consumer discretionary sector's index <.GSPD> gave up 1.2 percent. Shares of youth-oriented retailer Abercrombie & Fitch lost 1.3 percent to $35.76.
The Commerce Department reported that U.S. retailers' June sales declined 0.5 percent -- more than twice the 0.2 percent drop forecast by economists polled by Reuters.
Bank stocks were among the biggest drags on renewed concerns about European banks' stress test results. The KBW Bank Index <.BKX> lost 2.3 percent.
Fast-food chain operator Yum Brands Inc gave a full-year profit outlook late on Tuesday that was below expectations. The stock was trading at $40.75, down 1.8 percent.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)