All three indexes had rallied earlier as investors welcomed comments from Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, who told lawmakers that withdrawing monetary stimulus prematurely could derail the economic recovery.
But the momentum faded after the Fed released minutes from its latest policy meeting.
According to the minutes, some members of the monetary policy committee were willing to dial down the Fed's bond-buying program as soon as June if the economic recovery becomes sustainable.
While a few members were concerned about investors' expectations for the overall size of the program, the committee voted to continue buying $85 billion worth of long-term Treasuries and other assets every month.
"There seems to be a bit more dissent at the Fed, or at least that's how people are reading the minutes," said Joseph Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading.
The minutes suggest the Fed will begin to curb its bond-buying activities sometime in the second half of the year, according to Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. He said the Fed will probably wait until September to make the change since that will give Congress time to sort out the nation's budget and raise the debt ceiling.
Carnival(CCL) dropped one day after the cruise ship operator took a beating following its dour sales outlook for the year.
Shares of GE(GE) edged slightly higher after CEO Jeffrey Immelt said that the company would consider spinning off certain non-core assets within its financing arm GE Capital.
After the market closed, Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) said earnings and sales fell in the company's fiscal second quarter. Despite the declines, HP's profits were better than expected. Shares surged after hours on the news.