The Dow Jones industrial average ended down more than 110 points as selling accelerated into the close. The S&P 500 closed about 0.7 percent lower, clinging to a year-to-date gain of about 0.2 percent.
"The real story of the day is oil's down 3 percent and that's been weighing all day. Not much to be read into this light volume (trading session)," said Peter Coleman, head trader at Convergex.
Energy declined nearly 1.5 percent to lead most S&P 500 sectors lower in afternoon trade. Materials briefly fell 1 percent as the second-greatest laggard in afternoon trade.