Sharp declines in industrial and material stocks also weighed on the market as commodities prices dropped again. A long rally in commodities prices that started earlier this year has been sputtering in recent weeks amid concerns of waning demand from China.
Oil prices fell further Wednesday after the government reported an increase in crude supplies. The same report a week ago, which showed an unexpected decline, touched off a rally in crude that sent prices to a 10-month high. Oil fell 62 cents to $71.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Government bond prices were slightly lower evern after an auction of $39 billion in five-year notes attracted favorable demand. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.46% from 3.44% late Tuesday.
The dollar rose against other major currencies. Prices for gold and other metals fell.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.4%. Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.5%, Germany's DAX index fell 0.6%, and France's CAC-40 lost 0.3%.