Markit Economics data on manufacturing in the eurozone, Britain and the United States were all positive, as was a purchasing managers index report from China, although the latter came in short of expectations.
With the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 closing before the New Year's Day holiday at record highs, investors were cautious Thursday.
The Dow index dropped 124.81 points, or 0.75 percent, to finish at 16,451.85. The S&P 500 gave up 16.19 points, 0.88 percent, to settle at 1,832.17. The Nasdaq index shed 36.14 points, 0.87 percent, to reach 4,140.45.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,056 issues advanced and 2,085 declined. Trading was on the light side with 3 billion shares traded.
In Europe, London's FTSE 100 lost 31.18 points, 0.46 percent, to reach 6,717.91.
The 10-year U.S. treasury rose 12/32 to yield 2.989 percent.
The euro traded higher at $1.3655 and the dollar was lower against the yen at 104.76 yen.
Gold gained $21.40 to reach $1,223.70 per troy ounce. Silver added 64.5 cents to reach $20.015.
Crude oil was off $2.85 at $95.57 per barrel.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, March corn was off 3/4 cent to $4.21 1/4 a bushel. March soybeans shed 22 1/2 cents to $12.70 and March wheat gave up 8 1/4 cents to $5.97.