A Facebook-led rebound in technology stocks in early afternoon on Wednesday helped Wall Street pare losses that were sparked by concerns about a U.S.-Russia conflict over Syria.
Earlier in the day, U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria, declaring missiles "will be coming".
"It feels like there are expectations that the U.S. is going to take some action against Syria. The market, I don`t believe, has priced one yet," said Phil Blancato, Chief Executive of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management in New York.
The rising tensions sent oil prices surging, boosting energy stocks 1 percent higher. But the risk-off sentiment weighed on treasury yields, pushing financial stocks down 0.82 percent.
Facebook`s shares were up 1.1 percent. They were down about 0.5 percent when Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg started his second day of testimony, but they flipped course as he pushed back on Congress members` suggestions that users do not have enough control of their data.
"It looks like investors are thinking he`s doing a good job in front of a hard-to-please crowd," said Kim Forrest, senior portfolio manager at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
"He`s trying to make sure that his view of the company which is, that they are good stewards of data, gets heard and it`s unclear if they are going to go unscathed with no regulation."
Facebook`s gains helped the technology sector cut losses to a marginal 0.09 percent and briefly pushed the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 into positive territory.
At 12:53 p.m. ET, the S&P 500 fell 6.32 points, or 0.24 percent, at 2,650.55 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.31 points, flat percent-wise, at 7,094.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 139.87 points, or 0.57 percent, at 24,268.13. The index was weighed down by financials and industrial stocks, which are still reeling from the impact of the uncertainty on tariffs between the United States and China.
In a sign of the market cutting losses, advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.33-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.14-to-1 ratio and on the Nasdaq, reversing course from earlier in the session when decliners slightly outnumbered advancers.
Volatility stayed low for most of the session. The CBOE volatility index was down 0.52 points at 19.95.
The Labor Department said U.S. consumer prices fell for the first time in 10 months in March, weighed down by lower gasoline costs, but underlying inflation continued to firm amid rising prices for healthcare and rental accommodation.
The CPI data, while not the Federal Reserve`s preferred measure of inflation, comes ahead of the release of the minutes of the central bank`s March meeting, in which it raised interest rates. Investors expect the minutes to reveal the Fed`s thinking on the future path of rate hikes.
Among stocks, Netflix gained 3.3 percent after Goldman Sachs became the latest brokerage to predict the streaming company would top expectations when it reports results on Monday.
Industrial distributor Fastenal fell 7.2 percent after its earnings missed expectations. The stock was the biggest decliner on the S&P, followed by peer WW Grainger`s 4.2 percent drop.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)