Stocks were lower across the board on an international scale -- down in China, Japan, Hong Kong and India and no better off in Britain, France or Germany.
New economic data was sparse and corporate reports were mixed. Equipment maker Caterpillar fell short of expectations on earnings in the third quarter. Boeing did better, its stocks rising as its full year earnings forecast improved.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 54.33 points, or 0.35 percent, to 15,413.33. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed down 8.29 points, 0.47 percent, to 1,746.38. The Nasdaq composite index of tech-dominated stocks shed 22.49 points, or 0.57 percent, to 3,907.07.
The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo lost 1.95 percent to reach 14,426.05. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong shed 1.36 percent to 22,999.95. The Shanghai composite index in China lost 1.25 percent to 2,183.11.
In Europe, Germany's DAX index dropped 0.31 percent to close at 8,919.86. The CAC 40 in France fell 0.81 percent to 4,260.66. In London, the FTSE 100 index gave up 21.18 percent to 6,674.48.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,379 issues advanced while 1,676 declined on volume of 3.7 billion shares traded.
On currency markets, the euro rose to $1.3777 and the dollar fell 97.39 yen. On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold lost $9.20 to $1,333.40 per troy ounce while silver dropped 21.5 cents to $22.575 per ounce.
Ten-year benchmark treasuries rose 4/32 to yield 2.501 percent.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, corn for December delivery added 4 1/2 cents to $4.42 3/4 per bushel. November contract soybeans added 6 cents to $13.08 1/4. Wheat for December added 3/4 to $7.01 1/2.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]