Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

This story was updated with the day's closing figures at 4:10 p.m. EDT.

U.S. stocks slid Tuesday, closing off their earlier lows, following a drop in consumer stocks as investors mulled over economic data for clues regarding the timing of a Fed interest rate hike.

The market's three major indexes closed higher for May, with the S&P 500 index wrapping up its third straight month of gains.

Stronger-than-expected April consumer spending data released Tuesday bolstered Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's stance on Friday that a rate hike in the coming months would be in order given an improvement in the economy. The impact of the strong spending data was somewhat muted, however, after a Conference Board report showed that the consumer confidence index slipped to 92.6 this month from 94.7 in April.

Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with the consumer staples index's 0.57 percent drop leading the decliners.

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Investors now await crucial U.S. jobs data for May on Friday. The Fed meets next on June 14-15.

"I think this is a classic wait-and-see the data kind of week," said Philip Blancato, chief executive officer of Ladenburg Thalmann in New York.

"So if the [jobs] data comes in as strong as I think, then you could be seeing a pretty significant pump to the expectations for the Fed to be able raise rates in June."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the day down 86 points, or 0.5 percent, at 17,787, while the S&P 500 was down 2 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,097. The Nasdaq Composite index shed earlier losses and closed up 15 points, or 0.3 percent, at 4,948.

Apple Inc.'s 0.5 percent fall to $100 was the biggest drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq, while Boeing Co.'s fall of 2.4 percent to $126 pulled down the Dow.

Coca-Cola Co's 0.4 percent drop to $45 was the biggest drag on the consumer staples index. Consumer heavyweights Home Depot Inc. and McDonald's Corp. were off almost 1 percent.

Disney, another Dow component, was down 1.1 percent. The studio's latest release, "Alice Through the Looking Glass," received poor reviews.

Celator Pharma surged 72 percent to $30 after agreeing to be bought by Jazz Pharma for about $1.5 billion. Jazz Pharma was down 0.4 percent at $152. Celator was the most traded stock on the Nasdaq.

Data from Reuters were used to report this story.