A day after Washington's temporary easing of curbs against Huawei Technology Co Ltd provided respite to U.S. stocks, reports that the White House could impose restrictions on another Chinese technology company rattled U.S. stocks anew.
Media reports on Wednesday said the Trump administration was considering sanctions on video surveillance firm Hikvision.
Fears that tit-for-tat tariffs and other retaliatory actions by the United States and China will hamper global growth have kept investors on edge, putting the S&P 500 on track to post its first monthly decline since the December sell-off.
"Business between the U.S. and China is not going to be what it was two months ago," said Jim Awad, senior managing director at Clearstead Advisors in New York. "They're going to tighten the screws, and we're going to tighten the screws."
"The market is attempting to reset U.S. profit growth expectations in light of that," he said.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 100.72 points, or 0.39%, to 25,776.61, the S&P 500 lost 8.09 points, or 0.28%, to 2,856.27 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 34.88 points, or 0.45%, to 7,750.84.
A tumble in shares of Qualcomm Inc and Lowe's Companies Inc helped drag down the benchmark S&P 500 index.
A federal judge ruled that Qualcomm illegally suppressed competition in the market for smartphone chips by threatening to cut off supplies and extracting excessive licensing fees. The chipmaker's shares plunged 10.9%.
Lowe's shares dived 11.8% after the home improvement chain cut its full-year profit forecast.
Another retailer, Nordstrom Inc, also reduced its sales and profit forecasts. Nordstrom shares dropped 9.2%.
However, shares of Target Corp jumped 7.8%, the most among S&P 500 companies, after the retailer's quarterly same-store sales and profit beat estimates.
The release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting, in which officials agreed that their patient approach to setting monetary policy could remain in place "for some time," had little impact on Wall Street's major indexes.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.71-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.94-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 28 new 52-week highs and eight new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 43 new highs and 121 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.00 billion shares, compared to the 6.94 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
(Reporting by April Joyner; Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Bill Berkrot)
By April Joyner