The Russell 2000 is down 66.50 points, or 4.3 percent.
Target plunged 10.5 percent after reporting weak results. The news spooked investors and, combined with disappointing earnings from Victoria's Secret parent company L Brands and Kohl's, provoked worry just ahead of Black Friday.
Major technology companies including Apple and Microsoft rose Wednesday, and crude oil prices climbed 3.8 percent a day after sinking to their lowest level in a year. Defense contractor Raytheon lost 3.2 percent to $176.18.
The S&P 500 index skidded 48.84 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,641.89.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 0.4 percent and the Kospi in South Korea was down 0.3 percent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 173.33 points, or 0.71 percent, to 24,638.97, the S&P 500 gained 23.82 points, or 0.90 percent, to 2,665.71 and the Nasdaq Composite added 107.27 points, or 1.55 percent, to 7,016.09. It was down 648 earlier.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite lost 147 points, or 2.1 percent, to 6,881.
The selling was widespread.
The West Texas Intermediate for January delivery slumped 3.33 US dollars to settle at 53.43 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for January delivery plunged 4.26 dollars to close at 62.53 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange. Technology and internet companies and retailers were responsible for most of the gains.
That contributed to a rebound for retailers after they dropped on Tuesday.
European stock indexes also recovered. Apple fell 3.7 per cent to $US178.97 and is down 22.3 per cent from the peak it reached October 3, though it's still up for the year.
American killed by Sentinelese Tribes in Andaman islands
Indian police officials confirmed the death and said seven fishermen who allegedly aided the visit had been arrested. Indian media reports said the American was on an adventure trip when his body was discovered by a fisherman.
The Dow is down 947.58 points, or 3.7 percent.
Apple sank 4.8 percent Tuesday and retailers also fell sharply.
United States. -traded shares of Nissan lost 5.8 percent to $16.90. Some tech companies were also having a rough day.
The early drops put major indexes back into the red for the year.
Tech stocks also were among the biggest losers in Europe. Nokia, a big supplier of telecom networks, fell 4 percent, and Ericsson lost 3.5 percent.
The S&P 500 index rose 15 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,657.
After Tuesday's plunge, the Dow is 8.8 percent off its recent high. It was down 524 earlier. US -traded shares of Nissan lost 5.8 percent, while Renault shares dropped 8.4 percent in Paris.
All five stocks, which had been leading the market higher during the bull market, are now down more than 20 percent from their highs in the past year, which puts them in bear-market territory. Netflix lost 5.6 percent to $270.21.
The S&P 500 Index hit a level almost 10 percent below its September record close before recovering.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 53 points, or 0.2 percent, to 25,365.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.77-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.91-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.