Stocks fell on Wednesday after key U.S. retail sales data came in worse than expected, dampening hopes of a quick economic recovery.

Shares in Wal-Mart Stores Inc , the world's biggest retailer and a bellwether for the sector, fell 2 percent to $49.70, while Macy's Inc dropped 5.4 percent to $11.68. The S&P retail index <.RLX> fell 2.8 percent.

Sales at U.S. retailers fell for a second straight month in April, government data showed. This confounded analysts, who forecast no change or even a small increase after disastrous motor vehicle sales were excluded. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

The market was topping and retail sales are part of the scenario that things haven't got much better yet, said Carl Birkelbach, head of Birkelbach Management in Chicago. I have become a little bearish here.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 142.81 points, or 1.69 percent, to 8,326.30. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> lost 15.15 points, or 1.67 percent, to 893.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 24.84 points, or 1.45 percent, at 1,691.08.

A rally in stocks has faltered recently as the market digests a series of secondary share offerings by companies that sought to take advantage of increased investor confidence that had pushed up major indexes about 30 percent since early March.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)