People pass by the Salesforce Tower and offices in New York City, U.S., March 7, 2019.
People pass by the Salesforce Tower and offices in New York City, U.S., March 7, 2019. Reuters / BRENDAN MCDERMID

U.S. stocks fell in volatile trade on Wednesday after data showing strength in factory activity raised concerns about aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, sending Treasury yields higher.

Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors fell in morning trade, with financial and real estate stocks leading the losses. Energy stocks gained 1.1% as oil prices firmed. [O/R]

U.S. manufacturing activity picked up in May as demand for goods remains strong, a survey from the Institute for Supply Management showed, which could further allay fears of an imminent recession, but a measure of factory employment contracted for the first time in nearly a year.

The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yield climbed to 2.93%, its highest in two weeks.

As part of the plan to combat inflation, the U.S. central bank on Wednesday will also begin trimming its $9 trillion balance sheet which it amassed to support the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We think interest rates are going to continue to go up, so assuming the inverse of QE, we expect risky assets to come down and, generally, the reversal of a decade-plus of accommodative policies," said Paul Kim, chief executive officer of Simplify ETFs.

Investors will be watching comments from St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard and New York Fed President John Williams later in the day for clues on the timeline of monetary policy tightening.

Uncertainty about the U.S. central bank's policy move, the war in Ukraine, prolonged supply chain snarls due to COVID lockdowns in China and higher Treasury yields have rocked stock markets, with the benchmark S&P 500 index falling 13.3% year-to-date.

Megacap companies Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and gained between 0.5% and 1.4% to provide the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

At 10:43 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 210.80 points, or 0.64%, at 32,779.32, the S&P 500 was down 28.10 points, or 0.68%, at 4,104.05, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 37.39 points, or 0.31%, at 12,044.00.

Salesforce jumped 12.4% after the enterprise software firm raised its full-year adjusted profit outlook and said it did not see any material impact from the uncertain broader economic environment.

Capri Holdings Ltd gained 2.1% after the Michael Kors owner posted upbeat fourth-quarter results and lifted its full-year profit outlook, signaling robust demand for its luxury goods.

Victoria's Secret climbed 6.6% after the lingerie brand topped first-quarter profit estimates as costs fell.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.17-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.88-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week highs and 29 new lows, while the Nasdaq posted 12 new highs and 48 new lows.