NEW YORK, New York - The sharp two-day rally, which kicked off the start of October, and this week, came to an abrupt halt on Wednesday.
Stocks spent the day struggling to get into the black but finding the weight of sellers too much to overcome.
"It's a moment of pause for the market to reflect on how durable the rally the past two days actually could turn out to be," Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment strategist for BMO Wealth Management, told CNBC Wednesday.
"The market's making the assessment that it's really going to take a lot for the Fed to make a dovish pivot. Yes, the JOLTS number was extremely welcome; no question about that. But that is really the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the Fed needs to actually take a softer tone."
"There's some reality creeping into the market, and that enthusiasm of a good number is starting to fade," Ma added.
The Dow Jones industrials retreated 42.45 points or 0.14 percent to close Wednesday at 30,273.87.
The Nasdaq Composite fell 27.77 points or 0.25 percent to 11,148.64.
The Standard and Poor's 500 finished 7.65 points or 0.20 percent lower at 3,783.28.
The U.S. dollar corrected higher Wednesday. The euro, which had been approaching parity earlier in the day, wilted to trade at 0.9884 around the New York close Wednesday. The British pound, which had been approaching 1.1500, traded back down at 1.1317. The Japanese yen softened to 144.57. The Swiss franc eased to 0.9834.
The Australian dollar was little changed at .6501. The New Zealand dollar was higher at 0.5740 following a 50 basis points interest rate hike by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand earlier in the day. The Canadian dollar eased to 1.3611.
On overseas equity markets, the German Dax lost 1.21 percent. The Paris-based CAC 40 was down 0.90 percent. In London, the FTSE 100 dropped 0.17 percent,
New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 jumped 89.98 points or 0.81 percent to 11,180.01.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 128.32 points or 0.48 percent to n27,120.53.
The Australian All Ordinaries increased 125.60 points or 1.82 percent to 7,030.90.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng was the stand-out in Asia, surging 992.28 points or 5.81 percent to 992.28.
In Seoul, South Korea, the Kospi Composite inched up 5.84 points or 0.26 percent to 2,215.22.
Mainland China's stock markets are closed for Golden Week.