US stocks gave up early gains on Thursday, as a rally sparked by progress in US-China trade talks faded, with investors moving into defensive sectors such as real estate and utilities.
The S&P 500 posted its best one-day percentage gain in 10 days on Wednesday following President Donald Trump's upbeat comments on trade and Beijing's first major purchase of US soybeans in months.
However, trading has been increasingly choppy and the major stock indexes have given up most early gains in the past two sessions.
On Thursday, the defensive consumer staples, utilities and real estate were leading gains among the 11 S&P sectors, which indicate caution, according to Crit Thomas, global market strategist at Touchstone Investments in Cincinnati.
"We have news coming out of China that suggests they want to play nice and make amends. But there is a narrative growing that there might be a recession in 2020," said Thomas.
"So it's hard for the market to really get excited when you have that sort of a narrative hanging out there."
The markets have also reacted to a slew of headlines ranging from a potential US government shutdown, interest rates to uncertainty around Brexit.
The US Treasury yield curve will invert next year, possibly within the next six months, much earlier than forecast just three months ago, with a recession to follow as soon as a year after that, according Reuters poll showed.
At 11:24 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 28.38 points, or 0.12 percent, at 24,555.65. The S&P 500 was down 2.97 points, or 0.11 percent, at 2,648.10 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 26.01 points, or 0.37 percent, at 7,072.31.
Retail stocks dropped, with Under Armour sliding 4 percent after the sportswear maker forecast 2019 revenue growth and profit below Wall Street estimates. The S&P retail index fell about 0.8 percent, snapping a three-day rally.
Procter & Gamble Co gained 2.50 percent after Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the consumer goods maker's stock to "buy" from "neutral".
General Electric Co jumped 8.68 percent after longtime bear JP Morgan upgraded the industrial conglomerate's shares to "neutral".
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.38-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.17-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded seven new 52-week highs and 29 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 12 new highs and 169 new lows.