Global markets found little inspiration Wednesday as they weighed fading US stimulus hopes, stubborn coronavirus worries and growing uncertainty over Britain's post-Brexit trade with the European Union.
Wall Street spent the morning slowly climbing upwards then reversed course when US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House and congressional Democrats remain "far apart" in discussion on another stimulus package.
"When Mnuchin commented over the stimulus, it hit the wire and the market sold off," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential.
The Dow closed 0.6 percent lower, while the Nasdaq lost 0.8 percent.
Across the Atlantic, sterling recovered a little ground against the dollar after faltering, as a deadline set by the British to reach a post-Brexit trade deal approaches on Thursday with no sign of a breakthrough in talks amid media reports they could be extended.
Noting new virus restrictions in Europe and beyond, ThinkMarkets analyst Fawad Razaqzada cautioned that "at this rate, there is a good chance economic recovery will stall in Europe and investors are evidently responding by reducing their exposure on the euro and European stock."
London and Paris also sagged while Frankfurt closed just 0.1 percent ahead after Tuesday had brought declines all round on the worsening coronavirus crisis.
Virus concerns have returned to the fore amid a surge in new infections and the halting of two vaccine trials, denting hopes for a cure or treatment being developed anytime soon.
The announcements "had a dampening effect on the market that is looking for signs and positive announcements," Krosby said of US stocks.
The Covid-19 resurgence in recent weeks has led to mounting fears for the economic recovery, particularly in Europe where governments are resorting to new controls while trying to avoid the devastating nationwide lockdowns of March and April.
The Netherlands is set to go into "partial lockdown" later Wednesday, with all bars, cafes and restaurants to close for at least two weeks, while French President Emmanuel Macron ordered a nighttime curfew for Paris and eight other French cities.
- Online coronavirus shopping boom -
Earnings season was underway, with Goldman Sachs posting a 94 percent net income surge from the year-ago period in the third quarter, following similarly positive results from Citigroup and JPMorgan.
In London, there was strong evidence of key internet-focused businesses benefiting from virus lockdowns.
Anglo-Dutch online food delivery service Just Eat Takeaway revealed orders rocketed 46 percent in the third quarter, compared with a year earlier.
The company, which competes with Deliveroo and Uber Eats, saw its share price jump 5.25 percent to 9,306 pence.
Online fashion retailer ASOS said pre-tax profits more than quadrupled to £142.1 million ($185 million, 157 million euros) in its financial year to the end of August, and sales soared by a fifth.
- Key figures around 2030 GMT -
New York - Dow Jones: DOWN 0.6 percent at 28,514.00 (close)
New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.7 percent at 3,488.67 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.8 percent at 11,768.73 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 5,935.06 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.1 percent at 13,028.06 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 4,941.66 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,273.28 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 23,626.73 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 24,667.09 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,340.78 (close)
Euro/dollar: FLAT at $1.1746 from $1.1746 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3018 from $1.2937
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.13 yen from 105.48 yen
Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.22 pence from 90.79 pence
West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.1 percent at $41.04 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.0 percent at $43.31