Wednesday's data included a Commerce Department report on new home sales, which jumped 7.9 percent in August from July. Durable goods orders rose in August, Commerce said, but the data was weak. Without big ticket transportation items, new orders fell 0.1 percent. With them, orders rose 0.1 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average posted losses for the fifth consecutive trading session. The index shed 0.4 percent, 61.33 points, to close at 15,273.26. The S&P index dropped 0.27 percent, giving up 4.65 points to 1,692.77. The tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index shed 0.19 percent, 7.16 points, to close at 3,761.26.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,547 stocks advanced and 1,513 declined on a volume of 3.1 billion shares.
Ten-year U.S. treasuries rose 10/32 to yield 2.623 percent.
The euro fell to $1.3524 while the dollar fell to 98.44 yen.
The Nikkei 225 index in Japan shed 0.76 percent or 112.08 points to 14,620.53.
The FTSE 100 index in Britain gave up 0.3 percent, 19.93 points, to close at 6,551.53.
Gold added 1.29 percent, adding $17 to reach $1,333.30 per troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Silver gained 21.9 cents to reach $21.805 per ounce.
In late trading, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for November delivery dropped 86 cents to reach $102.27 per barrel.
On the Chicago Board of trade, corn for December delivery added 5 3/4 cents to $4.54 1/2 per bushel. Soybeans for November gained 9 1/2 cents to settle at $13.22. Wheat closed at $6.70 1/2, up 12 1/4.
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]