Stocks ended near session lows in seesaw trading as investors considered minutes from the Fed's latest policy meeting and the latest signs of weather-impacted economic growth.
The Dow swung from nearly 100 points up to nearly 100 down at the close, and the Nasdaq snapped an eight-day winning streak.
At the FOMC meeting, Fed officials agreed unanimously to continue the taper program but revealed little consensus over short-term rates and some doubts about whether the Fed should continue to reduce the pace of asset purchases.
Before the release of minutes, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said he expects a mid-2015 interest-rate hike, and the IMF warned of a still-weak economic recovery with significant risks remaining.
The dollar edged up while gold futures settled lower and lost even more ground after the Fed minutes; 10-year Treasury yields rose to 2.73%.
The approach of yet more frigid weather sent natural gas prices spiking to a five-year high and U.S. crude oil to four-month highs.