Basic materials companies rose behind gains for packaging companies WestRock, which added $2.44, or 4.8 percent, to $53.07 and International Paper, which rose $1.11, or 2.2 percent, to $52.56.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,339 as of 3:15 p.m. The Dow lost 118.79 points, or 0.6 percent, to 20,404.49. It rose as much as 10 points, or 0.4 percent, earlier on.
Twenty-First Century Fox fell 0.8 per cent as Fox News severed its relationship with Bill O'Reilly, dumping America's most-watched cable news anchor after a flood of sexual-harassment allegations and an advertiser boycott. USA data showed a counter-seasonal build in gasoline inventories and a smaller-than-expected decline in overall crude stocks and sent US crude below the $52 a barrel mark for the first time in two weeks. On the Nasdaq, 1,680 issues rose and 605 fell.
BANK COMEBACK: Wealth management and investment banking firm Morgan Stanley said its profit jumped in the first quarter as its stock and bond trading businesses made about twice as much money as they did one year ago.
US first-quarter earnings so far have been mostly stronger than expected. Despite disappointing results from Goldman Sachs Tuesday morning, most have said their trading units did well, and they're also benefiting from higher interest rates. Ford and General Motors both rose about 1 percent and Tesla gained nearly 2 percent. On the Nasdaq, 1,904 issues rose and 837 fell. Shares of Chevron also declined, down 1 percent recently. Excluding one-time items, IBM reported earnings of $2.38 a share, topping the FactSet consensus estimate of $2.35.
IBM sank almost 5 percent to $161.61 after the company reported a bigger-than-expected decline in revenue for the first time in five quarters. IBM posted mixed quarterly results as earnings beat but sales fell for the 20th straight quarter on a year-over-year basis.
Shares of BlackBerry Ltd gained 3.1 per cent to $12.04 after the technology company said insurer Allied World would offer its cyber policyholders access to BlackBerry tools. Equipment and software maker Rockwell Automation climbed $1.11 to $150.64.More news: Tillerson accuses Iran of 'alarming provocations' as US reviews policy
U.S. Treasury prices have surrendered part of yesterday's gain, with the benchmark 10-year yield trading 3 bps higher at 2.20%. That helped banks but hurt high-dividend payers including utilities and household goods companies.
CHOPPY CHOPPER SALES: Textron, which makes Cessna small planes and Bell helicopters, also disclosed lower-than-expected sales. FirstEnergy shed 62 cents, or 2 percent, to $30.85 and beauty products retailer Coty surrendered 42 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $17.99.
Other markets:Oil futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-steadies-as-investors-await-eia-inventory-report-2017-04-19) declined 1.6% as gasoline supplies climbed. Brent crude, used to price global oils, fell $1.96, or 3.6 percent, to $52.93 per barrel in London.
The dollar recovered from recent weakness against the euro EUR= and the safe-haven yen JPY= , while sterling was off six-month highs hit after Britain's prime minister on Tuesday called for a snap election.
British stocks are vulnerable to a rising pound because more than two-thirds of FTSE 100 company earnings are derived from operations overseas. The Russell 2000 index, which is made up of smaller companies that tend to be more USA -focused, added 5.24 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,367.13 after a late gain a day ago. However, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index bucked the downtrend and inched up by 0.1%.
Hang Seng Index was down 0.41%.