U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday as a report showing a surprising drop in private- sector employment stoked concerns about the health of the labor market two days before the government's key payrolls data.

But the three major U.S. stock indexes rose for a fourth straight quarter, as investors continued to pour money into equities on bets the economic recovery is, overall, in good shape.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 50.79 points, or 0.47 percent, to close unofficially at 10,856.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 3.84 points, or 0.33 percent, to end unofficially at 1,169.43. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> lost 12.73 points, or 0.53 percent, to finish unofficially at 2,397.96.

For the first quarter, the Dow rose 4.1 percent, the S&P 500 gained 4.9 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 5.7 percent.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Jan Paschal)