NEW YORK - US stocks retreated Wednesday following a batch of mostly lackluster earnings, while a stronger pound hammered London's FTSE 100.
US stocks have hit numerous records over the last month, boosted in part by good earnings. But disappointing reports Wednesday from AT&T and Boeing, among others, led to declines in both those companies and the broader market.
"Earnings season has been good overall, but we are still seeing some misses," said Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman. "Bulls know that a brief pullback might be necessary."
Investors were also rattled by discord among Republicans that could halt progress on President Donald Trump's tax cut plan, a key investor priority.
In a withering address on the Senate floor, Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake announced Tuesday he was retiring from the body and lambasted Trump for "reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior."
Earlier, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is also retiring, called Trump an "utterly untruthful" leader who "debases" the nation.
The strife "creates great anxiety about tax reform," said Tom Hainlin of US Bank's Ascent Private Capital Management.
London's FTSE 100, meanwhile, dropped 1.1 percent after Britain's GDP grew 0.4 percent in the third quarter, slightly outperforming expectations.
The pound, which has been under pressure over suggestions that a hike in interest rates may be delayed, spiked after the positive GDP results, rising against the dollar and the euro.
"Ultimately, a respectable growth rate in the UK economy will assist the equity benchmark in the long run, but for now the pound is putting pressure on it," said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
Eurozone stocks also retreated ahead of the European Central Bank's policy meeting Thursday, at which it is expected to announce a big reduction in its bond-buying stimulus as the eurozone economy picks up.
Frankfurt fell 0.5 percent to drop back below the 13,000 point level, while Paris shed 0.4 percent.
Analysts expect the ECB will slash the volume of corporate and government bonds it buys each month in half -- from 60 billion to 30 billion euros -- but extend the duration of the program while pledging to keep the monetary tap open and interest rates at historic lows for longer, in order to help financial markets adjust.
In Asia, a phenomenal run of 16 straight days of gains finally ended in Tokyo on Wednesday as a late bout of profit-taking saw the Nikkei close in negative territory for the first time this month.
KEY FIGURES AROUND (5 a.m. Thursday in Manila)
New York - DOW: DOWN 0.5 percent at 23,329.46 (close)
New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.5 percent at 2,557.15 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.5 percent at 6,563.89 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.1 percent at 7,447.21 points (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.5 percent at 12,953.41 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.4 percent at 5,374.89 (close)
Madrid - IBEX 35: DOWN 0.5 percent at 10,153 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.6 at 3,588.49
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 percent at 21,707.62 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 28,302.89 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,396.90 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1813 from $1.1760 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3257 from $1.3131
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.78 yen from 113.93 yen
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 29 cents at $52.18 per barrel
Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 11 cents at $58.44 per barrel
© Agence France-Presse