The selling pressure was again focused in the hard-hit technology sector, where shares of the so-called FAANG stocks - Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet - were under pressure.
The S&P 500 index gained 20 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 2,663 as of 10 a.m.
The Nasdaq ended the day 120 points - or 1.7 percent - lower, at almost 6,909 points.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 29 points, or 1.9 percent, to 1,498.
The decisive rebound witnessed in the S&P 500 Technology and Communication Services indexes, which both suffered heavy losses earlier this week, boost the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite in the first hour following the opening bell. Durable goods orders also fell 4.4 percent last month from September, the largest amount in 15 months, with commercial and military aircraft leading the decline. Apple fell 3.7 per cent to $178.97 and is down 22.3 per cent from the peak it reached October 3, though it's still up for the year.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.77-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.91-to-1 ratio favored advancers.The S&P 500 posted six new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 14 new highs and 84 new lows.
After Tuesday's plunge, the Dow is 8.8 percent off its recent high. Natural gas surged 10 percent to $4.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Strong reports from companies including Foot Locker helped retailers.
NISSAN: Nissan said Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who engineered a turnaround at the automaker, was arrested and will be fired on charges he underreported his income and misused company funds.
Other retailers experienced losses Tuesday, with Kohl's dropping 9.2 percent, L Brands plummeting 17.7 percent and Macy's falling 3.4 percent.
Benchmark U.S. crude reversed an early loss and rose 0.5% to $56.76 a barrel in NY. Some tech companies were also having a rough day.
Apple sank 2.6 percent in early trading Monday and Amazon lost 1.5 percent. Nokia, a big supplier of telecom networks, fell 4 percent, and Ericsson lost 3.5 percent.
In Europe, Germany's DAX index lost 1.6 per cent and France's CAC 40 shed 1.2 per cent. London's FTSE 100 retreated 0.8 per cent.
Safe-play stocks like utilities lagged the market.
Gold rose 0.2 percent to $1,225.30 an ounce. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.08 percent from 3.04 percent.
The dollar rose to 113.06 yen from 112.40 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1398 from $1.1383.
In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 0.4 per cent and the Kospi in South Korea was down 0.3 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.5 per cent.