The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 81.45 points or 0.56 percent to 14,537.14. The S&P 500 shed 10.40 points or 0.67 percent to 1,541.61. The Nasdaq index of tech-dominated stock lost 38.31 points or 0.56 percent to 3,166436.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,341 stocks advanced and 1,674 declined on a volume of 3.8 billion shares traded.
To start the day, the Labor Department reported first-time unemployment benefit claims rose by 4,000 to 352,000 in the week. The Conference Board in New York said the U.S. leading economic indicators dropped 1 tick in March to 94.7.
Morgan Stanley shares slid 5.4 percent on a corporate report that fell short of expectations. Verizon Communications reported earnings that beat expectations, although revenues fell short of the consensus forecast.
Gold pulled ahead on the day, adding $5.80 to reach $1,388.50 per troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. NYMEX West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at $88.28 per barrel, up $1.60.
The 10-year U.S. treasury note rose 5/32 to yield 1.687 percent.
Against the dollar, the euro was higher at $1.3048 from Wednesday's $1.3031. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 98.19 yen from 98.12 yen.
The Nikkei 225 in Japan dropped 1.22 percent or 162.82 points to 13,220.07. The FTSE 100 index in Britain dropped 0.01 percent or 0.54 points to 6,243.67.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, corn for May delivery shed 16 cents to $6.445 per bushel. July soybeans gained 11 cents to $13.91 and July wheat gave up 2.25 cents to $7.05.
Celebrity Couples of 2014 [PHOTOS]