Stocks pulled back from five-month highs in early trading on Wednesday, with pressure on the euro testing the view that U.S. equities were decoupling from the single currency.
Energy shares led equities lower as U.S. crude futures posted their fourth decline in five days. The S&P energy sector index <.GSPE> fell 1.1 percent and an index of oil services companies <.OSX> dropped 1 percent.
The euro fell near 16-month lows against the U.S. dollar after Fitch warned of dire consequences for the currency if the European Central Bank does not take more action.
U.S. equities have been struggling to delink from the performance of the euro, a trend that became the norm in the last quarter of 2011 as traders fretted over possible sovereign defaults in the euro zone.
Steve Goldman principal at Goldman Management in Short Hills, New Jersey, said the market was still very aware of what is happening in European debt markets, ahead of Spanish and Italian bond auctions later this week.
U.S. markets are tethered to that, even though we still want to move higher, he said. Even U.S. banks are diverging from the European banking system.
But the link has been weakening. The 50-day correlation between the S&P 500 e-mini futures contract and the euro crossed the zero line this week after four months of being in positive territory, indicating they were no longer on the same path.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 36.21 points, or 0.29 percent, at 12,426.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dipped 3.39 points, or 0.26 percent, at 1,288.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was off 0.83 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,701.67.
The U.S. Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book, a summary of anecdotal information on current economic conditions around the United States, at 2 p.m. EST. The report may offer more evidence the economy's health is slowly being restored.
Clothing retailer Urban Outfitters Inc
The Dow and S&P 500 hit five-month highs on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)