Only seven of 30 blue-chip Dow components posted gains, among them Goldman Sachs Group and JPMorgan Chase & Co., two financial firms that will be affected by the so-called Volcker Rule that was approved by regulators in Washington Tuesday.
The rule makes it illegal for large banks to speculate with federally insured funds, such as depositor fund, which are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Such trading has been enormously profitable for large financial firms in recent years, generating huge bonus checks for bankers. Banks, however, have been preparing for the changes the rule will impose on their businesses, which accounts for stock gains on the day the rule, mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill, was finally passed.
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 52.40 points or 0.33 percent to 15,973.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 gave up 5.75 points or 0.32 percent to 1,802.62. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 8.26 points or 0.2 percent to 4,060.49.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,254 issues advanced while 1,843 declined on volume of 3.1 billion shares traded.
On foreign markets Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 38.90 points or 0.25 percent to 15,611.31. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 gave up 36.17 points or 0.55 percent to 6,523.31.
The 10-year treasury note gained 10/32, yields dropping to 2.807 percent.
The dollar fell to 102.79 yen while rising marginally against the euro, which traded at $1.3762.
Gold was up $27.80 on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, at $1,262 per troy ounce. Silver added 70 cents or 3.57 percent to $20.45.
In after hours NYMEX trading, crude oil added $1.27 to $98.61 per barrel.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, March corn shed 2 1/4 cents to $4.35 1/2 per bushel. January soybeans lost 5 3/4 to $13.38 and March wheat lost 12 1/2 to $6.38.