The biggest drop in crude oil prices since October weighed on oil producers and other energy stocks.
Disappointing results or outlooks from retailers and other companies also weighed on the market.
Utilities and consumer-focused companies like packaged food and beverage makers, restaurant chains, bucked the trend.
Investors had their eye on Washington D.C., where the House is expected to vote on its version of a major tax bill this week. Expectations that the tax overhaul will sharply lower corporate taxes have helped lift the market higher this year.
“We’re through earnings season, which was pretty good, with earnings up about 10 percent,” said Stuart Freeman, co-head of global equity strategy for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “Now investors are waiting and watching to see what shape this tax reduction bill is going to take.”
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 5.97 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,578.87. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 30.23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,409.47. The Nasdaq composite slid 19.72 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,737.87. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 3.81 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,471.26.
The steep drop in crude oil prices weighed on oil exploration companies and other energy sector stocks.
Newfield Exploration was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, tumbling $2.27, or 7.1 percent, to $29.82. Range Resources lost $1.23, or 6.6 percent, to $17.35.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.06, or 1.9 percent, to settle at $55.70 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That’s the biggest single-day decline since October. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 95 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $62.21 a barrel in London.
“There’s this perception that there’s a lot of supply waiting in the wings and as prices have moved higher that’s made the marginal producer want to come out and just find more oil,” said Eric Freedman, chief investment officer of U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
The market’s spotlight is on retailers this week, with many of the companies reporting quarterly results over the next few days, including Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores and Best Buy.
On Tuesday, Home Depot turned in better-than-expected results and raised its outlook for the year. Shares in the home-improvement retailer rose $2.71, or 1.6 percent, to $168.06.
Advance Auto Parts vaulted 16.3 percent after the company’s latest quarterly earnings exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. The stock was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, climbing $13.44 to $95.72.
Other big retailers failed to impress traders.
TJX Cos., the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, fell 4 percent after it reported revenue and earnings that missed analysts’ estimates. Its shares lost $2.82 to $67.94.
Dick’s Sporting Goods slid 2.8 percent after the retailer reported a solid quarter but also said its earnings per share could drop as much as 20 percent next year. The stock gave up 73 cents to $25.59.
General Electric was among the market’s big movers, sliding sharply for the second straight day after analysts downgraded the industrial conglomerate. On Monday, GE pulled back on profit expectations and slashed its dividend in half. The stock tumbled $1.12, or 5.9 percent, to $17.90 Tuesday. It’s now down 43.4 percent this year.
Investors bid up shares in Buffalo Wild Wings following a report that Roark Capital has offered to buy the company for $150 a share, or $2.3 billion. Shares in the restaurant chain soared $28.10, or 24 percent, to $145.35.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.38 percent from 2.41 percent late Monday.
In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline gave up 3 cents to $1.76 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3 cents to $1.91 a gallon. Natural gas slid 7 cents to $3.10 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold rose $4 to $1,282.90 an ounce. Silver added 3 cents to $17.07 an ounce. Copper fell 5 cents to $3.07 a pound.
The dollar fell to 113.40 yen from 113.57 yen on Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.1794 from $1.1667.
Major stock indexes in Europe closed lower or flat. Germany’s DAX fell 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 shed 0.5 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was little changed.
Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index finished flat. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.9 percent. South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.2 percent. Shares in Taiwan and Southeast Asia were mostly higher.