NEW YORK: Wall Street closed slightly lower on Thursday as tech and financial shares slumped, erasing earlier gains stemming from Federal Reserve minutes showing the central bank opened the debate on when to pause further interest rate hikes.
All three major U.S. indexes ended the session down a fraction of a percent.
The minutes showed almost all Fed members agreeing that another rate increase was "likely to be warranted fairly soon," but also ticked off a series of issues that had begun weighing on their view of the economy. That release briefly lifted equities to the plus side, but gains faded into the close.
Wall Street rallied a day earlier as comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled to many investors that the Fed's three-year tightening cycle could be drawing to a close.
"The Fed's stance is much more dovish than it was earlier in the year," said Matthew Keator, partner in the Keator Group, a wealth management firm in Lenox, Massachusetts. "(The Fed has) also signaled they're going to look at data as opposed to just being ideologically set on a particular policy of just raising rates to more normal historical averages."
Tariff jitters continued to preoccupy investors as they eyed the upcoming G20 summit in Buenos Aires, where U.S. President Donald Trump was due to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Saturday to discuss trade.
Trump sent mixed signals on Thursday about a potential trade deal between the world's two largest economies, lending to a choppy session.
Technology shares weighed the most on all three major U.S. stock indexes, with the S&P 500 technology sector down 0.95 percent.
Interest rate-sensitive financials dropped 0.8 percent, as U.S. 10-year Treasury yields continued to fall following the release of the Fed minutes.
Among large U.S. banks, shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co , Citigroup Inc , Bank of America Corp , Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley ended the session down between 0.8 and 1.8 percent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 27.59 points, or 0.11 percent, to 25,338.84, the S&P 500 lost 5.99 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,737.8 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 18.51 points, or 0.25 percent, to 7,273.08.
Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, five closed in negative territory.
Twitter Inc dropped 4.4 percent after a Politico report that Fox News boycotted the social media network seemed to fuel worries over a wider backlash.
Dollar Tree Inc rose 6.1 percent after the discount retailer said tariffs would have a minimal impact this year.
Shares of teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Finch Co jumped 20.9 percent after forecasting better-than-expected holiday sales.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.08-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.23-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 20 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 41 new highs and 63 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.85 billion shares, compared to the 7.67 billion average over the last 20 trading days.
(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)