Wall Street fell as investors weighed comments from various US Federal Reserve officials following last week's surprise decision by the central bank not to cut back its monthly bond-buying program.
"The more people who speak from the Fed in one day, the less clarity there is," Richard Sichel, who oversees about US$1.9 billion as chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust, told Bloomberg News. "People will be hanging at every word that's said for more clues about our monetary policy."
Fed Bank of New York President William Dudley said the timetable for the start of a taper as outlined by Chairman Ben Bernanke remains intact.
"The economic fundamentals are improving and I expect that the healing process will continue in the coming months and years," Dudley said in a speech. "At the same time, it is important to recognise that the financial crisis generated significant headwinds that are only slowly abating. We must push against these headwinds forcefully to best achieve our objectives."
Separately, Fed Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart wondered if the US was losing its "economic mojo?" "There is some evidence to the affirmative," he said.
Fed Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said the central bank damaged its credibility-the second top policymaker to say so-with last week's decision, despite consensus expectations among investors and analysts for a reduction.
In late afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.28 per cent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 0.42 per cent, and the Nasdaq Composite Index weakened 0.22 per cent.
Declines in shares of Goldman Sachs and Coca-Cola, down 2.4 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively, led the slide in the Dow.
Shares of Canada's Blackberry slipped, last 0.22 per cent lower at C$9.06, after Fairfax Holdings, Blackberry's largest shareholder, offered to take it private in a buyout worth US$4.7 billion.
"This is a company that needs to go private if they have any chance," Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners, told Reuters. "They'd be able to restructure outside of the public eye, take a long term view, and run the company at break even."
Shares of Apple rose, last up 5 per cent, after the company said it sold a record 9 million of its latest iPhones in the models' debut weekend. The company also predicted quarterly revenue and gross margin will be at the top end of a previous forecast.
"The critics have told you Apple lost its magic," Daniel Ernst, an analyst with Hudson Square Research, told Reuters. "Customers are telling you something very different. Clearly, people like the product. That sentiment is almost more important than the number."
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index declined 0.5 per cent. Germany's DAX shed 0.5 per cent, the UK's FTSE 100 fell 0.6 per cent, while France's CAC 40 dropped 0.8 per cent.