U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday as energy sector shares dropped for a fourth straight session, tracking crude prices, while tech, the best performing sector this year, weighed the most on the S&P 500.
Oil prices fell for a fourth session after data showed an unexpected increase in crude and gasoline stockpiles. The S&P 500 energy sector <.spny> was on track to post a four-day decline of close to 4 percent, its weakest such period in seven months.
"Oil coming off recent highs and as crude prices move so the big energy stocks," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.
The tech sector was the largest weight on the S&P 500, something Jankovskis attributed partly to their "very strong run this year, perhaps some people are taking profits."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.dji> fell 95.91 points, or 0.41 percent, to 23,313.56, the S&P 500 <.spx> lost 8.41 points, or 0.33 percent, to 2,570.46 and the Nasdaq Composite <.ixic> dropped 16.51 points, or 0.24 percent, to 6,721.37.
The CBOE Volatility index <.vix>, a widely followed measure of market anxiety, hit a more than 2-month high at 14.51 and was last up 1.0 points at 12.55.
A rise in both inflation and retail sales sent a signal to the Federal Reserve, which had been concerned about a recent disinflationary trend, setting the U.S. central bank on a path to raise rates in December.
Among the few gainers were financial stocks <.spy>, which rose on prospects of further rate hikes. The S&P 500 bank index <.spxbk> added 0.69 percent.
High-yielding sectors like utilities <.splrcu> and consumer staples <.splrcs>, among the so-called bond proxies, were the largest decliners outside of energy.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.49-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.35-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 35 new 52-week highs and 19 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 41 new highs and 77 new lows.