Stocks fell in a seesaw trading session as investors digested minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting and the latest signs of economic growth.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 65 points, or 0.4%, to 16063 in late-afternoon trading, near the day's lows.
The S&P 500 index slid 10 points, or 0.6%, to 1830. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 36 points, or 0.9%, to 4236, putting it at risk of breaking an eight-session streak of gains.
Stocks showed weakness for the second day in a row following two consecutive weeks of gains for the Dow industrials, which are down 2.7% in 2014.
Traders said the day's stock trading was quiet, however, with many investors unwilling stake out new big bets in either direction.
"People are kind of marking their time," said Rick Fier, director of equity trading at Conifer Securities. "The market can't pick a direction."
The Dow had climbed as many as 95 points earlier in the session but turned negative around midday after the International Monetary Fund warned about troubles in emerging markets.
The Dow briefly flirted with gains later after the release of the Fed minutes showed that officials in January started to debate when to start raising interest rates, with a few arguing they might need to move sooner than expected.
Despite the up-and-down moves, traders said that they saw investors scoop up stocks, preventing a bigger decline.
"Dip buyers are out there defending the market," said Michael Antonelli, an equity sales trader at Robert W. Baird & Co.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note ticked higher to 2.730% from 2.709% late Tuesday. Bond prices move in the opposite direction of yields.
Another weak economic report showed that new U.S. residential construction slid 16% in January to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 880,000, well below expectations of 950,000. Meanwhile, building permits declined 5.4% to 937,000, compared with forecasts of 980,000.
Many investors and economists in recent weeks have maintained that unusually cold winter weather is likely to blame for a series of weak U.S. economic data points.
Gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,320.60 a troy ounce, after posting a ninth gain in a row Tuesday. Crude-oil futures tacked on 0.9% to settle at $103.31 a barrel. The dollar edged higher against the euro and yen.
Stocks in Europe recovered from early declines, as the Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.1%, notching a fourth consecutive gain.
Asian markets were mixed. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average pulled back 0.5% after shooting up 3.1% on Tuesday, while China's Shanghai Composite climbed 1.1% to a two-month high.
In corporate news, Panera Bread rose after the casual-restaurant chain reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, but provided a first-quarter outlook that was below current projections.
Zale soared after the jewelry retailer agreed to be acquired by larger rival Signet Jewelers for about $690 million in cash. Signet's stock climbed.
Carlyle Group rose after the private-equity firm's fourth-quarter earnings and revenue were well above analyst forecasts, and the company said it would pay a dividend of $1.40 a share for the quarter, up from 85 cents a year earlier.
seesaw : 시소와 같은, 동요(변동)하는
session : 시간, 기간
stake : (돈 등을) 걸다
mark time : (더 재밌는 것을 기다리는 동안) 시간을 보내다
flirt with : to think about or be interested in sth for a short time, but not seriously
scoop up : 퍼 담다, 주워 담다
미국 시장은 초반 상승했으나 IMF의 EM에 대한 경고를 담은 보고서 발표 후 하락.
장 막판 금리 인상 시기에 대한 논쟁을 담은 연준 의사록 발표 후에 추가로 하락해서 8거래일간의 상승세에 마침표를 찍음.
1월 미국 residential construction은 16% 하락, 건축 허가는 5.4% 하락. 둘 다 예상치 하회.
많은 투자자들과 경제학자들은 최근의 지표 부진을 이례적인 강추위의 영향으로 보고 있음.
사모 투자 그룹인 칼라일은 4분기 실적 상승과 전년 대비 큰 폭으로 상승한 배당 발표에 힘입어 상승마감.
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