Four of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with energy <.SPNY> down 1.7 percent and financials <.SPSY> off 0.43 percent.
The financial sector has taken the biggest beating this year, falling 15 percent, as recession fears compounded concern about their exposure to the energy sector and expectations that global interest rates are unlikely to rise quickly.
"We're starting to feel some of the knock on effects from energy and distress in those markets," said Steven Baffico, chief executive officer at Four Wood Capital Partners in New York.
"Over the last couple of days, that's spread into the financial system. It's difficult to find a lot of momentum to the upside for any sustained period of time," he said.
U.S. stocks have struggled for the better part of this year, and fell sharply in the previous two sessions, on increasing worries of a sustained slowdown in global economic growth and falling oil prices.
Brent crude oil prices were down 2 percent, giving up earlier gains.
At 11:29 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 6.37 points, or 0.04 percent, at 16,033.42.
The S&P 500 <.SPX> was up 2.49 points, or 0.13 percent, at 1,855.93. The index is down 13.18 percent from its record high in May through Monday's close.
The Nasdaq Composite index <.IXIC> was up 9.60 points, or 0.22 percent, at 4,293.35. The index has slid 18.12 percent from its record in July through Monday's close.
The technology sector <.SPLRCT> was up 0.36 percent. Facebook (>> Facebook Inc) and Alphabet (>> Alphabet Inc) were up about 1.5 percent. Microsoft (>> Microsoft Corporation) was up 0.6 percent.
The stocks, which led the rout in technology stocks in the past two days, were propping up the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Viacom (>> Viacom, Inc.) tumbled 12.5 percent and Twenty-First Century Fox (>> Twenty-First Century Fox Inc) dropped 2.3 percent after the two media companies posted lower-than-expected revenue.
Other media stocks also fell. Disney (>> Walt Disney Co), scheduled to report after the close, was off nearly 1 percent. Investors are keen to know ESPN subscriber trends.
Regeneron Pharma (>> Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc) dipped 4.6 percent to $372.58 on a disappointing profit and a forecast of slowing sales growth for its blockbuster eye drug.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,282 to 640. On the Nasdaq, 1,741 issues fell and 835 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed two new 52-week highs and 72 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded three new highs and 303 lows.
(Reporting by Aastha Agnihotri and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)
By Abhiram Nandakumar