After a strong opening, stocks lost steam in midday trading and finished the day mostly in the red as investors took profits prior to first-quarter earnings reports for many large market cap companies.

Retail shares saw a lot of the declines amid strong after-market results from Apple Inc.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.23 percent to close at 18,037.97 while the S&P 500 lost 0.4 percent to close at 2,108.92 and the Nasdaq fell 0.63 percent to 5,060.25. The WWD Global Stock Index declined 0.1 percent to 114.86.

In the U.S. retail sector, nearly all of the fashion apparel companies tracked suffered declines between 0.2 and 4 percent. Shares in the specialty apparel segment were particularly hit with declines between 3 and 4 percent. Gap Inc., American Eagle Outfitters Inc., Aéropostale Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Inc. and Bebe Stores Inc. were all decliners.