U.S. stocks ended lower at the closing bell on Wednesday after a raft of weaker-than-expected earnings from retailers overshadowed the Federal Reserve's minutes where it reiterated the central bank's patient stance. The S&P 500 fell 0.3% to finish around 2,856. The Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated 101 points, or 0.4%, to end near 25,776. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.4% to finish around 7,751. Shares of Lowe's Cos. and Nordstrom Inc. fell 9% and 12%, respectively, after both delivered worse-than-expected first-quarter earnings. The Fed's minutes from its most recent meeting showed officials were comfortable with the central bank's accommodative policies, though they were split on the outlook for interest rates. Trade tensions continued to linger in investors' horizons even as China's ambassador to the U.S. said late Tuesday Beijing was open to renewing trade negotiations.