The S&P index recorded 25 new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 29 new highs and 28 new lows. The S&P sectors were mixed, with gains in technology, financial and health care stocks outweighed losses in industrial, energy, real estate and other sectors.
As of writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.6% on the day while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were down 0.57% and 0.43%, respectively.
Investors had their eye on an global effort by health authorities to monitor and contain a deadly virus outbreak in China that has spread to the United States and three other countries.
Fourth-quarter earnings season is well under way, with 58 companies in the S&P 500 having reported, 67.2% of which have beaten analyst expectations, according to Refinitiv data. The Nasdaq edged up 12.96 points, or 0.1%, to 9,383.77.
After taking a hit earlier this week on worries about travel demand, airline stocks recovered, with Southwest Airlines Co gaining 2.3% and American Airlines Group Inc rising 1.4% after quarterly earnings.
Bond prices fell. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.77% from 1.76%.
The main indexes retreated from record highs on Tuesday after officials confirmed the first U.S. case of the coronavirus. As of Wednesday, more than 500 people were confirmed infected with the virus and 17 had died from it.
IBM was among the big gainers in the technology sector, up 3.4% after the company reported surprisingly strong results for the fourth quarter and issued a solid profit forecast for 2020.
Netflix dropped 3.6% after the entertainment company gave investors a weak forecast for new subscribers during the first quarter. It warned investors that it is seeing more U.
Shares of Boeing Co extended their fall, dropping 1.4% in the wake of the planemaker's announcement that it does not expect approval for its 737 MAX aircraft to return to service until summer.
WTI March crude oil fell 2% to settle at $55.59/bbl, after the contract earlier fell to an 11-week low $54.77/bbl on growth concerns stemming from the China virus. Copper fell 3 cents to $2.77 a pound.