Meanwhile, gold stocks were among the few groups to buck the downtrend, resulting in a 2.7 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. 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 November, weaker than analysts' expectations of the 20.6. Afterhours trading in the largest exchange-traded fund that tracks the S&P 500 fell 0.5 percent.
Shares of Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc and Google parent Alphabet Inc, collectively known as FAANG, gained between 1.3 percent and 3.1 percent.
Privately-owned housing starts in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,256,000, a decline of 3.6 percent year on year, according to the Commerce Department on Tuesday.
In other commodities trading, wholesale gasoline fell 4.2 percent to $1.35 a gallon and heating oil lost 4 percent to $1.75 a gallon. The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and 87 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded eight new highs and 523 new lows.
The S&P 500 is down 53.79 points, or 2.1 per cent. "The hiatus on trade helps as well, but I'm a bit more skeptical about how long lasting that is", Ronald Temple, head of US 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 Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 82 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,675.
The Nasdaq is down 119.48 points, or 1.7 percent.
India’s opposition party leader sentenced to life imprisonment
The violence in 1984 erupted hours after Mrs Gandhi was shot dead at her home, and resulted in nearly 3,000 people being killed. On Monday, there were protests as the party swore in its new Madhya Pradesh state chief minister, Kamal Nath , into office.
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. For stock markets, battered recently by a series of concerns notably related to mounting trade tensions between the US and China, any such hint could help sentiment improve coming into the year's end. The S&P 500 hit a 14-month low point with a 2.1% loss.
Treasuries and the Japanese yen advanced amid a lingering mood of caution after Chinese President Xi Jinping offered no fresh commitments to stimulate the world's second-biggest economy in a keynote speech.
The two-day Fed meeting, starting today, has been expected to deliver another interest-rate increase, Reuters reported.
The Canadian dollar was trading at 74.36 cents USA, up from Tuesday's average value of 74.33 cents US.
There haven't been any big developments in U.S.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 9/32 in price to yield 2.8264 percent, from 2.857 percent late on December 17.
The dollar extended its falls against major currencies ahead of the Fed meeting.