“We’re probably playing off Europe; the European economic weakness is a focus, and we’re seeing weakness in the European banks and stock markets,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group.
“But a time out is probably well needed, a straight line up is not the healthiest thing,” Boockvar added.
Macy’s gained after the department-store chain posted third-quarter earnings that beat estimates, while its revenue missed. The company also cut is full-year guidance.
Wednesday data had wholesale inventories rising 0.3 percent in September, versus expectations for a 0.2 percent gain.
Benchmark indexes moderated opening losses, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average initially shedding 78 points, and lately off 34.13 points, or 0.2 percent, at 17,580.77, with Goldman Sachs Group and JPMorgan Chase leading blue-chip losses.
The S&P 500 shed 3.65 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,036.03, with utilities and financials leading sector losses and consumer discretionary and telecommunications the best performing of its 10 major sectors.
The Nasdaq declined 2.99 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,657.56.
For every four shares rising, five fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 125 million shares traded as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern. Composite volume hit 541 million.
The dollar slipped against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note used to figure mortgage rates and other consumer loans fell 4 basis points to 2.3256 percent.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi “is helping the dollar and dollar-denominated securities by pledging to keep pushing their rates down to a level that stimulates the economies of the euro zone. This should also help feed interest into the Treasury auctions as the yield ‘separation’ between U.S. debt and euro-zone debt can’t be ignored by global investors,” Kevin Giddis, head of fixed income capital markets at Raymond James, wrote in an emailed note.