Stocks sank Wednesday after a report said a phase one trade deal between the U.S. and China may be delayed.
The two sides had hoped to sign an agreement by mid-November, but a Reuters report, citing unnamed experts, said the elusive partial deal may not be reached until 2020.
In response to the report, a White House spokesperson told FOX Business: "Negotiations are continuing and progress is being made on the text of the phase-one agreement.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 112.93 points, or 0.4 percent, but finished well off its session lows. The index was down more than 255 points at its worst levels of the day.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished lower by 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
Semiconductor stocks were hit especially hard on the news a trade deal may be delayed. AMD, Qualcomm and Micron Technology all finished lower.
In other news, earnings season for retailers rolled on with Target and Lowe's releasing their quarterly results ahead of the opening bell.
Target reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and sales, and raised its profit outlook for the remainder of the year. The big-box retailer now expects full-year adjusted earnings per share of $6.25 to $6.45, up from $5.90 to $6.20. Wall Street analysts were anticipating $6.18.
Lowe's reported mixed results, but raised its full-year earnings-per-share forecast.
Urban Outfitters ended sharply lower after reporting its third-quarter profit fell 28 percent from a year ago as its inventory ballooned.
Alibaba finished lower after raising $12.9 billion through a secondary listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Shares will begin trading in Hong Kong on Nov. 26.
Commodities were mixed, with gold little changed near $1,474 an ounce and West Texas Intermediate crude oil up 3.2 percent at $57.13 a barrel after the Energy Information Agency's weekly inventory report showed a smaller-than-expected inventory build.
In Europe, London's FTSE fell 1 percent, Germany's DAX was down 0.7 percent and France's CAC declined 0.4 percent.
In Hong Kong, a small band of anti-government protesters, their numbers diminished by surrenders and failed escape attempts, were still holed up at a Hong Kong university Wednesday as they braced for the endgame in a police siege of the campus.
Police were waiting out the demonstrators after 10 days of some of the most intense protests the city has seen in more than five months of often-violent unrest. Since the siege began Sunday, more than 1,000 people have been arrested and hundreds of injured treated at hospitals, authorities said.
In Asian markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.8 percent, China's Shanghai Composite declined 0.8 percent and Japan's Nikkei declined 0.6 percent.
FOX Business' Ken Martin and The Associated Press contributed to this article.