NEW YORK -- Video-game shops, restaurants and retailers led the stock market lower Wednesday.
Without any good news to drive the market up, investors grappled with the question hanging over financial markets: When will the Federal Reserve and other central banks pull back their economic stimulus programs?
Markets have turned turbulent in recent weeks as traders start preparing for a time when the Fed and central banks in Europe and Japan aren't pumping as much money into the financial system.
"There's nothing concrete out there to turn us around today," Russell Croft, co-portfolio manager at the Croft Value Fund in Baltimore. "So naturally enough, people are back to thinking about the Fed."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 126.79 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 14,995.23. The Dow had its first three-day stretch of losses this year and is down 1.7 percent for the week.
The Nasdaq composite sank 36.52 points, or 1 percent, to 3,400.43.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 13.61 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,612.52. All 10 industry groups in the index dropped, led by consumer-discretionary and utility companies.
Two of the top-performing stocks in the S&P 500 this year, Netflix and Best Buy, led consumer-discretionary companies down. Netflix lost $6.82, or 3 percent, to $207.64. BestBuy dropped $1.01, or 4 percent, to $26.88. GameStop fell $1.13, or 3 percent, to $36.69.
The S&P 500, the stock-market benchmark for most investment funds, has lost 3.4 percent since reaching a record high on May 21. The next day, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank could decide to scale down its bond-buying program in the coming months if the economy looks strong enough.
Since then, the discussion among investors has centered on what will happen when the Fed shifts course.
"'Tapering' is definitely the word of the month," Mr. Croft said.
In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.23 percent from 2.18 percent late Tuesday.
In commodities trading, crude oil rose 50 cents to $95.88 a barrel in New York. Gold rose $15 to $1,392 an ounce.