Energy is down and health care stocks are down on federal judge's ruling last week saying the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
USA stocks held near a 14-month low on a volatile day that saw the benchmark gauge swing nearly 2 percent from trough to peak. The Empire State Manufacturing Survey's headline general business conditions index, aggregated by the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, fell 12.4 points to 10.9 in December, weaker than analysts' expectations of around 20.6.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 0.22 points to 2,546.16.
The Dow is down 1,043.58 points, or 4.2 percent. Apartment building owner AvalonBay Communities gained 1.1 percent to $181.91 and CBRE Group rose 4.3 percent to $41.15.
The S&P 500 has lost almost 8% of its value this month, eclipsing the 6% fall witnessed during the final month of 2002.
The Dow closed up 82 points, or 0.35 percent, at 23,675.64.
The S&P 500 is headed down 7.8% in December.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in N.Y. on December 18, 2018. "The hiatus on trade helps as well, but I'm a bit more skeptical about how long lasting that is", Ronald Temple, head of USA equity at Lazard Asset Management, told Bloomberg TV.The Fed is likely to hike rates on Wednesday, even as President Donald Trump intensifies his attacks on the central bank.
The S&P 500 had risen as much as 1.1 percent earlier in the session but gave up most of its gains after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats had rejected his spending bill proposal.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.14-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.43-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The major US index futures are pointing to a higher opening on Tuesday following the sell-off seen over the course of the two previous sessions. "We are at a regime shift moment, and the debate is how big that regime shift will be". Many hoped that a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping would help improve the outlook because he was expected to call for more market reforms.
The market is now well into the red for the year and the S&P 500 index is trading at its lowest level since October 2017.
JAPANESE TRADE: On Wednesday, Japan reported that its trade balance in November was a deficit of 737.3 billion yen, from 450.1 billion yen in the previous month.
Bond price rose, sending yields lower.
Volume on US exchanges was 9.18 billion shares, compared with the 8.06 billion-share average over the last 20 trading days.
There haven't been any big developments in U.S.
The dollar extended its falls against major currencies ahead of the Fed meeting.
The Nasdaq is down 126.75 points, or 1.8 per cent.