Alcoa shares fell after announcing it lost $143 million in the third quarter, largely due to one-time charges.
Shares were also lower in Europe where German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a visit to Athens there was a "light at the end of the tunnel," referring to the Greek government's ability to rein in its runaway debt problem.
Far from reassuring, the Merkel visit was met with violent street demonstrations.
By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 128.56 points or 0.95 percent to 13,344.97. The Nasdaq composite index shed 13.24 points or 0.43 percent to 3,052.78. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gave up 8.92 points or 0.62 percent to 1,432.56.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,151 stocks advanced and 1,883 declined on a volume of 3.2 billion shares traded.
The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 12/32 to yield 1.678 percent.
The euro fell to $1.2853 from Tuesday's $1.2885. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 78.16 yen from 78.26 yen.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index shed 1.98 percent, 173.36 points, to 8,596.23.
In London, the FTSE 100 index lost 0.58 percent, 33.54, to 5,776.71.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]