U.S. stocks declined on Thursday, weighed down by materials and financial shares as investors paused following a three-day run-up.

Initially the market was boosted by data that showed factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region rose in September to its highest level since June 2007.

Shares of American Express , down 1.4 percent at $35.33, were among top drags on the Dow, while the S&P financial index <.GSPF> was down 0.4 percent. Financial and material shares have been among the better performers in recent days.

It's taking a little breather, said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.

There was some positive economic news that didn't really do anything (for the market), so that's another sign of exhaustion.

In one report, business activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic states jumped more than expected in September, advancing to its highest since June 2007, but indexes on orders and employment fell.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 21.39 points, or 0.22 percent, at 9,770.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 5.05 points, or 0.47 percent, at 1,063.71. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 10.89 points, or 0.51 percent, at 2,122.26.

On Wednesday, Wall Street hit 2009 highs on optimism about a global recovery. Stocks have risen eight of the last nine sessions on strong data and a pickup in merger and acquisition activity.

(Editing by James Dalgleish)