Stocks fell at Wednesday's open, retreating from their biggest rally in a month in the previous session, while yields on Treasuries held steady as fears of a resurgence in the euro zone debt crisis boosted demand for safe-havens.
Oil prices fell, with London's benchmark Brent crude falling nearly 1 percent to trade below $118 a barrel on concerns that uncertainties in the global economic recovery would weigh on demand for energy.
In Europe, shares edged lower while German Bunds saw support from signs that the Bank of England and European Central Bank were unlikely to agree to more monetary policy easing to support growth.
The concern about a flare-up in the euro zone debt crisis, which has largely been centered on Spain's budget problems, enabled Germany to auction off 4.2 billion euros ($5.5 billion) in two-year bonds at a record low yield of just 0.14 percent.
On Wall Street the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 56.99 points, or 0.43 percent, to 13,058.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 4.68 points, or 0.34 percent, to 1,386.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 6.36 points, or 0.21 percent, to 3,036.46.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 4/32, with the yield at 1.9805 percent.