The report was issued a day after the National Association of Home Builders said business confidence among builders had risen for the eighth consecutive month in December.
General Motors stock bucked the trend. The Treasury Department said it would sell its 500.1 million shares of GM, including a sale of 200 million shares by the end of the year to GM for $27.50 per share.
GM stock shot up 6.6 percent to $27.18.
By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 98.99 points or 0.74 percent to 13,251.97. The Standard and Poor's 500 was off 10.98 points or 0.76 percent to 1,435.81. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite shed 10.17 points or 0.33 percent to 3,044.36.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,509 stocks advanced and 1,533 declined on a volume of 3.8 billion shares traded.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index soared, adding 237.39 points, 2.39 percent, to 10,060.40.
In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.43 percent, 25.69 points, to 5,961.59.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 5/32 to yield 1.806 percent.
The dollar rose to 84.36 yen, up from Tuesday's 84.2 yen. The euro fell to $1.3226 from Tuesday's $1.3229.
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