Commodities and commodity stocks were having a tough day before the Fed minutes came out. Then at 2 p.m. EST, the rest of the market got hit when the Fed said that "several on FOMC said Fed should be prepared to vary pace of QE."
Immediately, large trades went off in broad stock-related ETFs like the SPDR S&P 500, and stocks began drifting lower. It's pretty simple: Less QE is bad for stocks. Gold drops even more because it means less money printing, less potential inflation. Dollar rallies. Long term Treasury bonds drop.
As for the notable drop in commodity and commodity stocks -- which occurred long before the overall drop in the market -- there were the usual rumors that some fund might be in trouble. True, the long, slow decent of gold accelerated Wednesday as key sell stops were hit. But there were other concerns. Caterpillar's trailing three-month sales report was terrible, indicating global growth is certainly not accelerating. And China is trying to put the brakes on its property market, once again. Any time China tries to slow down anything -- bank loans, real estate, whatever -- markets get nervous.