The Dow Jones industrial average fell 128.34 points, or 0.71 per cent, to 17,849.08, the S&P 500 lost 6.99 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 2,074.2 and the Nasdaq Composite added 7.93 points, or 0.16 percent, to 4,937.44.
Stocks cut losses in afternoon trading, led by a rise in tech shares. The S&P 500 technology index was up 0.1 per cent, helped by gains in Apple, up 1.7 per cent at $127.04, and Facebook, up 1.7 per cent at $79.36.
After the bell, shares of Oracle rose 3.4 per cent to $44.33 following results.
Investors were anxious as the Federal Open Market Committee kicked off its two-day meeting, to be followed by a statement from chair Janet Yellen this afternoon.
Most economists expect the Fed to remove a pledge to be “patient” about raising interest rates from its statement, but analysts said it may still be on track to raise rates by June. “If they’re still on pace for a mid-year move, whatever language they use doesn’t make a difference,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Among S&P 500 sectors, materials was the weakest with a 1.2 per cent decline, led by DuPont, down 3.1 per cent at $74.68. The energy sector was down 0.5 per cent as oil prices fell further, pressured by concerns over a growing supply glut.