Investors were digesting a Chinese Communist Party communique on economic reform that was heavy on jargon but light on specifics.
Speculation about when the Federal Reserve will begin reducing its bond-buying program was also a factor.
"Commentary by Fed officials continues to confound, with some for more stimulus and some for less, some talking of a December taper and some of later," said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
Federal Reserve vice chair Janet Yellen may shed light on the topic when she gets interviewed by the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. Yellen is President Obama's nominee to replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Fed.
Looking ahead to corporate earnings, retailer Macy's (Fortune 500) is due to report results before the market open. Dow component , Cisco Systems (Fortune 500) and , SeaWorld Entertainment ( are set to report after the bell. )
U.S. stocks closed lower Tuesday, after hitting record highs the previous two days.
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