Stocks fell on Thursday as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke backed off hints that additional near-term stimulus could be on the way, removing a possible catalyst from a market already facing plenty of obstacles.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 54.49 points, or 0.44 percent, to end unofficially at 12,437.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> lost 8.84 points, or 0.67 percent, to finish unofficially at 1,308.88. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> fell 34.25 points, or 1.22 percent, to close unofficially at 2,762.67.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)